DES Pushes Back on Bill to Lower Threshold for Contaminants

Mar 9, 2017

Credit Joe Shlabotnik/flickr

The state Department of Environmental Services says a proposal to set stricter limits for certain contaminants in drinking water could cost the state over 30 million dollars.

New Hampshire’s current limit for emerging contaminants in drinking water – that is, contaminants where the science isn’t yet widely settled -- is based on science from the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

A bill currently in the House would require the state environmental agency to come up with its own, more conservative threshold.

But state environmental officials have expressed concern about the bill. This week the Department of Environmental Services sent a memo to lawmakers that said the bill could cost the state tens of millions of dollars in additional water testing and treatment.

Michael Wimsatt is with DES, he says the agency remains confident that the current EPA threshold of 70 parts per trillion is adequate.

“We believe that standard is protective. It was put together by a very large group of very well qualified scientists and toxicologists and it was peer-reviewed and we believe it represents the best evaluation to set a protective standard.”

A House committee will consider the bill’s potential financial impact Friday.