by Hadley Barndollar, New Hampshire Bulletin
Private wells in more than 120 New Hampshire communities have shown elevated amounts of PFAS chemicals. For those without an alternative water source or an offer for one, thousands of dollars for remediation is available through the state.
The PFAS Rebate Program, run by the Department of Environmental Services, gives a one-time rebate to private well users for up to $5,000 for the installation of PFAS treatment, or up to $10,000 for connection to a public water system.
Eligible for the rebate program are owners of both single-family and multi-unit residential properties, as well as tenants or occupants of a residential property where the owner has not applied. Treatment installers may also apply on behalf of an eligible applicant.
The rebate program began accepting applications last July. At the time, DES said it had collected more than 7,200 PFAS samples from approximately 6,200 wells across the state, identifying several thousands of locations that exceeded ambient groundwater quality standards for four PFAS compounds, known as “forever chemicals.”
PFAS concerns have been highest for residents with private wells surrounding the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics facility in Merrimack. In 2016, PFAS contamination was discovered in hundreds of wells in Merrimack, Bedford, Litchfield, Londonderry, and Manchester. The number has grown exponentially since.
Other areas of concern in the state include Pease Air Force Base and waste sites.
PFAS chemicals have been linked to increased cancer risk and negative reproductive outcomes, among other health issues. The state published a report in 2021 that found elevated rates of kidney and renal pelvis cancer in Merrimack. Merrimack state Rep. Wendy Thomas has speculated her cancer diagnosis is linked to PFAS.
In addition to the individual rebate program, the state’s PFAS Remediation Grant and Loan Fund, established in 2020, assists municipalities and water systems with funding.
How to apply for NH PFAS rebate program
Applicants for the state’s rebate program must provide documentation of PFAS exceedance with no offer of an alternative water source from a third party, such as bottled water, treatment, or service connection. State rules mandate that parties found responsible for PFAS contamination must remedy the impacted water supply, but not all contamination has been legally attributed.
An exceedance, according to DES, is a test result greater than one or more of the following standards:
- Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) – 12 ng/L
- Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) – 15 ng/L
- Perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS) – 18 ng/L
- Perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) – 11 ng/L
Documentation required with the completed program application includes lab results, sales receipts or invoices, specific information on treatment and equipment installed, photo documentation of the installation or service connection, and post-treatment lab results showing that PFAS levels have fallen below the state’s standards.
Residents with treatment installations completed after Sept. 30, 2019, are eligible for the rebate program.
For more information, visit: https://www.pfas.des.nh.gov/funding/pfas-removal-rebate-program-private-wells.
This story was written by Hadley Barndollar, a reporter at the New Hampshire Bulletin, where this story first appeared.
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