U.S. Sens. Shaheen, Collins, Kelly, King Introduce Legislation On PFAS Contamination in Private Wells

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Paula Tracy photo

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is pictured at Cherry Pond last September in this file photo

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Angus King (I-ME) introduced bipartisan legislation to address PFAS contamination in private wells. The Technical Fix for the State Response to Contaminants Program bill would ensure that states have flexibility to use funding from the $5 billion provided in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for PFAS and other emerging contaminants in small and disadvantaged communities to help assist private well owners get rid of toxins in their drinking water. The senators had previously urged the Biden administration to ensure this funding is available to address contamination in residential wells.

“All Granite Staters deserve access to clean drinking water without having to worry about contamination from toxic PFAS chemicals,” said Senator Shaheen. “This important fix would help ensure that families who rely on private wells for their drinking water in New Hampshire and throughout the nation aren’t left out of historic investments in clean drinking water. New Hampshire families were top of mind as we negotiated the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and I’m committed to ensuring we’re reaching all Americans, including those who rely on private wells, to ensure their water is safe from contamination.”

“PFAS and other harmful contaminants have been discovered in private water systems in Maine and across the country, and contamination will only become more evident as testing becomes more readily available,” said Senator Collins. “It is crucial that the funding we provided through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law be executed with the appropriate flexibility not only to support public water systems but also to help address contamination for those who rely on private wells. With more than half of Maine residents getting their drinking water from private wells, and an estimated 23 million people or more nationwide relying on residential wells, it is important that the historic investments in safe drinking water help all families.”

“Protecting our scarce groundwater resources from emerging contaminants like PFAS was a top priority of mine when we were negotiating the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” said Senator Kelly. “With this bill, we will make sure all Arizonans who rely on groundwater for the water they drink are able to benefit from our historic investments in PFAS cleanup.” 

“Every Maine household deserves access to clean drinking water free of harsh or toxic chemicals like PFAS,” said Senator King. “This responsible amendment to the Safe Drinking Water Act provide states more flexibility when mitigating PFAS contamination in private wells — providing an added peace of mind for Maine communities where private wells are prevalent. This is a proactive step forward to better protect our drinking water and promote public health.”

As a lead negotiator on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Senator Shaheen worked to secure $10 billion to specifically address PFAS and other emerging contaminants, $5 billion of which is targeted to small and disadvantaged communities. Congress intended for that funding to be available to states to help address private well contamination among other eligible uses of the funding. Currently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) interprets statute as only allowing for assistance to private wells if it is being used to connect to public water systems. Because connecting to public water systems may not be feasible or desirable in all cases, this bill clarifies that assistance may be provided for the benefit of well owners that are not public water systems and are not connected to a public water system.

Shaheen has long led efforts to uncover the health effects related to PFAS contamination. Shaheen recently responded to the release of the first Pease Health Study Report – a first-in-the-nation study to better understand the impacts of PFAS in drinking water. She has also worked to get clinicians guidance on testing and protocols based on recommendations made by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) in a 2022 report.

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