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N.H. Senate Adds $6M For PFAS Contamination Response To State Budget Proposal

N.H. State House
Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The proposed state budget up for a vote this week in the N.H. Senate includes money to address PFAS chemical contamination issues.

The increasing awareness of PFAS contamination has already been costly for the state, towns and water utilities.

Among other efforts, the state Department of Environmental Services is preparing to release new drinking water limits on four types of PFAS.

Assistant DES commissioner Clark Freise says it'll only increase costs.

"So far we've been balancing all of this with our existing budget and existing personnel, and we just can't keep doing it,” he says.

The Senate wants to give DES an additional $6 million for PFAS issues over the next two years.

Freise says that would help pay for initial PFAS investigations – such as in towns that aren’t prepared to immediately respond to newly discovered contamination, or where polluters can’t be identified to cover clean-up costs.

Freise also wants to fund a preliminary design of a PFAS treatment system that affected towns and utilities could adapt. And he wants to look into options for building a PFAS destruction facility somewhere in New Hampshire.

He says he’ll submit a more detailed spending plan for the proposed $6 million to the legislature this week.

But Freise says DES will still need a lot more money in its state aid fund to cover the grants and loans that affected towns and utilities may need in order to comply with new PFAS laws.

New Hampshire also hopes to win a big settlement from two lawsuits against companies that manufactured PFAS. But that money could take years to materialize.

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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