Governor Chris Sununu has signed an omnibus bill that will reinstate new drinking water standards for toxic PFAS chemicals.
Democrats hailed the signature of the bill, which was opposed by some business groups. The legislation enacts some of the strictest PFAS drinking water standards of any of the handful of states that have such rules.
These standards initially came from the Department of Environmental Services, but stalled in a lawsuit before they took effect. This bill aims to get around that lawsuit and empowers DES to maintain the standards through annual reevaluations.
DES says the new standards are now law, but will not be enforced immediately. As of late July, officials were still discussing how to implement them.
The package of bills Sununu signed Thursday also includes a loan fund to cover compliance costs for utilities and municipalities. That fund is designed to be augmented with future settlements from lawsuits against PFAS chemical makers and sellers.
The newly signed bill also requires insurance coverage for PFAS blood tests. And it extends the state commission on the Seacoast cancer cluster through 2022.
Legislators have separately passed a bill that seeks to give exposed people more options to seek damages in court, but that plan hasn’t gone to Governor Sununu yet.
PFAS are linked to health problems and have been found in water supplies across New Hampshire.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the new drinking water standards would not take effect until 2022. In fact, they will take place immediately pending DES plans for implementation. The Seacoast Cancer Cluster Commission will be extended until 2022. This story has been updated.