Water contamination discovered at more Bedford homes

by Kimberly Houghton, originally posted on January 4, 2017


BEDFORD — Bottled water is now being provided to an additional 31 homes in Bedford after new test results reveal several elevated levels of contamination in private wells.

While much of the perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) problem has remained in Merrimack and Litchfield, there are now a total of 96 houses in Bedford, according to the state Department of Environmental Services, that are affected by contamination believed to be from Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics.

“Based on some additional test results, NHDES has expanded the bottled water area in Bedford to include 31 more properties further north on Back River Road,” said Town Manager Rick Sawyer.

Some of the homes where elevated levels have been newly discovered in private wells are on Smith Road and Back River Road, he explained.

Previously, there were 65 local residences receiving bottled water because of groundwater contamination. Bedford now has a total of 96 homes deemed eligible to receive the bottled water being distributed through the state and funded by Saint-Gobain.

Local officials met with representatives from DES and Saint-Gobain last month to discuss various options for providing an extension of municipal water to Bedford residents with contaminated private wells.

“We met with them to map out some options and discuss our requests, and Saint-Gobain is considering them at this time,” said Sawyer. “We expect to hear back from them in three to four weeks.”

So far, discussions with Saint-Gobain as to how to proceed have been friendly, said Sawyer.

State officials are awaiting test results from several additional water samples taken in Bedford, as testing and retesting is continuously being conducted on private wells in town, according to Sawyer.

“DES has continued to test private wells in southern Bedford as part of the investigations into PFOA in drinking water. Recent results show one exceedance above the groundwater standard of 70 parts per trillion, several elevated results and many results below the groundwater standard,” LeaAnne Atwell of DES wrote in an email to Sawyer. “Based on this pattern, NHDES has expanded its qualified bottled water area in Bedford to include an additional 31 properties on Back River Road and Smith Road.”

Work is ongoing to address contamination in Litchfield and Merrimack as well.

In Litchfield, where a significant number of private wells are contaminated with PFOA, a new water main along Route 3A and adjacent roads has been completed, which will eventually provide public water to several residences with private wells. Additional water mains have been completed in the Corning Road area and Roberts Road area as well. So far, only five properties have been connected, but nearly 100 more are expected to be connected this month, according to DES.

Pennichuck Corp. is designing pump station upgrades and a new waterline for the Darrah Pond Pump Station in Litchfield.

In Merrimack, Saint-Gobain has an agreement in place with Merrimack Village District, which provides public water to about 25,000 customers, to continue with preliminary engineering for a treatment solution. Some Merrimack properties will need a point-of-use filtration system if water service installation was not completed by the end of last month, according to an update provided by DES. So far, 13 of the 21 new water services have been installed in Merrimack.

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