By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – Ensuring the drinking water New Hampshire residents draw from the tap and hand to their children is clean and safe is an essential job of government, Gov. Chris Sununu said.
With that comment, Sununu signed three new water protection bills Tuesday during a ceremony at the Executive Council offices.
Lawmakers who worked in a bipartisan fashion to pass House Bill 235, House Bill 236 and House Bill 271, attended the event and celebrated the advancements toward a healthier future for all in the Granite State.
– House Bill 236 creates a six-year statute of limitation on civil actions relative to damage caused by perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances also known as PFAS and PFOAs which have been used in factories, particularly in southern New Hampshire.
It states that “a civil action arising out of any harm or injury caused by a person or entity found legally responsible for or an action for any damages resulting from a PFAS exposure may be brought within the six years after the date the plaintiff discovers, or in the exercise of reasonable diligence should have discovered, such harm, injury, or damages and the causal relationship of an act or omission to such harm, injury or damages.”
It takes effect in 60 days.
– House Bill 235 addresses impacts to other water users from new sources of water for community water systems.
It means that private well water users are not adversely impacted by any new community water source.
“This bill requires the Department of Environmental Services to adopt rules concerning small groundwater withdrawals from new sources of water,” it states.
– House Bill 271 also directs the state Department of Environmental Services to set maximum contaminant limits for per and polyfluoroalkyl substances and also enables the Department of Environmental Services to make grants and loans to eligible municipalities and drinking water and wastewater systems to address PFAS contamination and renames the PFAS remediation fund the PFAS remediation loan fund.
Prime Sponsor of the legislation, Rep. Rosemarie Rung, D-Merrimack, said: “This legislation is monumental in allowing the Department of Environmental Services to develop limits on these carcinogens as well as grant critical funding to hundreds of Granite State families who are impacted daily by dangerous water conditions.
“Everyone deserves the ability to drink their water without fear of health consequences. I am so proud that Democrats sponsored this critical initiative that has the potential to save so many lives in the Granite State,” Rung said.
There is $50 million available to communities for remediation efforts on a cost-share basis.
Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, said the state has made a lot of headway in the past few years on water protection measures.
He said the legislature has heard from many communities on concern for potential PFAS contamination and what those contaminants can do to the health of citizens, particularly children.
The state set up a $50 million fund to make sure we had money to help communities through this, he said, and the bill is “a winning formula for the state and communities to work together.”
Bob Scott, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Services, said 320 cities and towns will benefit from these three bills.
He thanked the governor and a bipartisan effort in the House and Senate.
Scott said this is “one more place where the New Hampshire advantage is taking hold.”
The governor said people are really putting faith in government when they can pour a glass full of water from the tap and hand it to their children.
“We have been making a lot of investments,” and these bills are just building upon what the state is doing to provide for a healthy environment, Sununu said.