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

Mar 5, 2018

The U.S. Geologic Survey has modeled the likelihood of finding arsenic in a bedrock well in New Hampshire. The leftmost map shows the chances of detecting arsenic at any level, while the rightmost maps shows the chances of finding it above the EPA's health guidelines -- the same as New Hampshire's current standard.
Credit 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.