Amherst to get aid for water problems

Staff photo by DAMIEN FISHER Clean water advocates, lawmakers and local officials applaud along with Gov. Chris Sununu after he signed three bills that will strengthen water protections for those living in the state during a ceremony at Amherst Town Hall last week.

AMHERST – People in Amherst with contaminated wells will soon be getting clean water under a bill signed Thursday, July 20, by Gov. Chris Sununu.

The perfluorooctanoic acid water contamination that affected 100 wells in Amherst homes is addressed in one of three clean water bills Sununu signed at Town Hall.

“There is no greater public trust than every time you turn on a faucet and hand your child that drink of water,” Sununu said. “We completely take it for granted that we trust the government has done their job to ensure the health and safety of our families and kids when we hand over that glass of water.”

The three bills will strengthen water protections in New Hampshire, according to a statement put out by Sununu’s office.

Everyone came together in a bipartisan way, said Sununu, who said he doesn’t want to just put a Band-Aid on the problem, but rather look for long-term solutions. There has to be a lasting foundation for the future, he said.

“Its an honor to sign the legislation today, but this is not the end, this is simply the beginning of what we have to do statutorily and where we have to go after to get appropriate funding to create infrastructure,” Sununu said.

Senate Bill 57 funds eligible drinking water and wastewater projects under the state aid grant program and addresses drinking water contamination in Amherst, and House Bill 431 establishes a commission to study long-term goals and requirements for drinking water in the seacoast area. The third bill, Senate Bill 127, addresses dissolved oxygen in the state’s water quality standards

Sen. James Gray, R-District 6, one of the prime sponsors of SB 127, said part of his bill’s aim is to keep up with current science by measuring the dissolved oxygen in the water. The state will now be moving toward federal Environmental Protection Agency standards.

“Keeping the Cocheco River off the impaired rivers list will save millions in wastewater treatment and save homeowners money,” Gray said.

Amherst Town Administrator James O’Mara said Pennichuck Water Works is prepping construction and piping to bring public water to the affected homes in place of the contaminated water in the wells.

“They should have public water in the fall,” O’Mara said.

Adam Urquhart can be reached at 594-1246 or aurquhart@cabinet.com.

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