Infrastructure is a major determining factor in the economic development strategies that are possible for a community. Availability of sewer, water, and three-phase power (a type of electrical service critical for manufacturing and other commercial land uses) are often one of the first questions a major employer seeks to answer when considering expansion or relocation to a new community. Water and sewer infrastructure is also critical for housing development to support the workforce necessary for an employer to survive and thrive in the region.
Understanding access to infrastructure across Southwest NH is crucial for helping each community create goals, objectives and a vision for what prosperity and economic development means in their own unique context. In addition, water and sewer infrastructure are critical to the development of multi-unit housing. With vacancy rates in Southwest New Hampshire hovering around 1%, the development of denser housing options is a necessary step to address workforce challenges at a community and regional level.
The map below provides an approximate overview of infrastructure availability in Southwest NH. Yellow areas represent areas served by water and sewer, red areas are served only by sewer and blue areas are served only by water infrastructure. Areas that are shaded are within proximity to three-phase power. As the map demonstrates, infrastructure is a limiting factor for development in many of the region’s communities. Only 13 municipalities, or 38% of SWRPC’s service area, has access to water, sewer and three-phase power infrastructure, of which sewer is by far the most limiting factor. The availability of sewer in towns with public infrastructure is primarily centralized in traditional village centers with the exception of some institutional facilities, larger communities such as Keene, and mobile home parks. Many more communities in the region have publicly accessible water (70%) and three-phase-power (80%) infrastructure.
Availability of infrastructure is calculated on a parcel basis, with a quarter-mile buffer serving as the service area. While a quarter-mile may be farther than distribution lines than what would be tolerated by a developer, the purpose of the map is to provide a broad overview of infrastructure in Southwest NH. Data is provided by the NH Department of Environmental Services and private electric utilities, and may contain inaccuracies.
Source: SWRPC Analysis of NH Department of Environmental Services & Utility Data
Understanding access to infrastructure across Southwest NH is crucial for helping each community create goals, objectives and a vision for what prosperity and economic development means in their own unique context. Often, it makes the most economic sense to concentrate development near existing infrastructure. However, there are resources available at the State and Federal level for communities that look towards the expansion of basic infrastructure to meet their economic development goals, particularly in with the influx of federal funding into local infrastructure projects in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.