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Revised Arsenic Bill Would Tell N.H. DES: Pick a Better Number

U.S. Geologic Survey

A new version of a bill in the state Legislature could require environmental officials to devise a stricter limit on arsenic in drinking water.

Rep. Mindi Messmer, a Rye Democrat, originally sponsored the proposal with what she admits was an unrealistically strict standard.

The Department of Environmental Services testified against it, but Messmer says they haven't committed to any one alternative.

Now, she says a House subcommittee may rewrite the bill to tell DES to propose a standard by Jan. 1.

If the subcommittee doesn't like what DES comes back with, she says, they'll impose their own idea.

"So they've given them a little bit of leeway to come up with what the Department of Environmental Services thinks is a good number,” Messmer says. “There's some discussion by the committee members about whether we should put an upper limit on that number, which I tend to think we should."

Messmer says arsenic levels in drinking water are directly tied to bladder cancer rates, which are high in New Hampshire.

The bill must be finalized and sent back to the House for a vote by March 15.

Annie has covered the environment, energy, climate change and the Seacoast region for NHPR since 2017. She leads the newsroom's climate reporting project, By Degrees.
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