Litchfield residents raise concerns about water contamination at meeting

State officials urge bottled water until long-term effects of PFOA are known

-Stephanie Woods, originally posted on April 8, 2016


On Thursday night, state authorities promised to provide bottled water to about 400 homes in Litchfield in Merrimack that could have well water contaminated with the synthetic chemical perfluorooctanoic acid.

At the meeting at Campbell High School, everyone had the same question: If I need to drink bottled water, is PFOA dangerous?

State officials said until the long-term effects of the chemical are known, and until they figure out how to deal with the contamination, they’re going to be very careful.

“All these tests are just a snapshot,” said Litchfield resident Dennis Boisvert. “We don’t know if the numbers will go up over time, or has the peak already passed us?”

Boisvert’s well tested positive for 42 parts per trillion of PFOA.

At first, the state Department of Environmental Services was only giving bottled water to homes that showed levels about 100 parts per trillion, but now, Boisvert is on the list.

“Some are low, but there are individuals that are high,” he said. “And we’re not far from the horse farm, and they’re very high. They’re just a few hundred feet away.”

“We’re concerned,” said Clark Friese of DES. “We have a number of houses that are surrounded by elevated levels, and while their wells are testing low levels today, we’re concerned that it maintains that way. So out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to expand the area that’s covered by bottled water.

At the meeting, DES revealed that more than 25 homes are now drinking bottled water, but they want to expand that number to 400.

This news comes after five wells showed high levels of PFOA, including one in Merrimack at 830 parts per trillion – more than double the Environmental Protection Agency’s provisional health advisory.

Corlyn Yusuf has now been offered bottled water, but is concerned about the well water she’s drank for 30 years.

“Oh yeah, better be safe than sorry,” Yusuf said. “We’ll hopefully have it done shortly, and hopefully it won’t turn out as bad as some of them have.”

Thomas Levesque has a private well and was about to put his house on the market, but now isn’t sure.

“We’re concerned about the potential property devaluation with this going on,” Levesque said. “Like all of us, were just ready to get answers from the state and the federal government.”

DES still has 72 water wells in Merrimack and Litchfield that they have yet to test.

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