A plan to offer loans for New Hampshire towns to cover the cost of new limits on PFAS chemicals in drinking water got bipartisan support from state lawmakers Tuesday.
The state's strict PFAS limits were supposed to take effect last fall, but are on hold under a court injunction.
A state Senate committee already unanimously approved a bill that would get around that injunction by putting the limits regulators developed directly into state statute.
The enjoined limits were rules set by the Department of Environmental Services at the legislature’s direction. Lawmakers did not originally specify numbers for the limits.
On Tuesday, that same committee voted in favor of setting up a $50 million loan fund to help pay local compliance costs with the rules if and when they become active again. The plan is an amendment to an earlier bill, SB496.
“Communities across the state have been impacted by per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination, largely through no fault of their own,” the bill states. “The cost of remediating this contamination for many communities would result in dramatically higher water and sewer rates for end users.”
The proposed $50 million in loans for affected towns would be borrowed against the state's credit. Officials say they would augment the fund with any settlement money the state gets from lawsuits over PFAS contamination, though that outcome is likely years away.
Regulators estimate that complying with the new standards, if they take effect, will cost towns tens of millions of dollars. Most towns have not tested their water for PFAS chemicals yet, so the exact costs are still unknown.