Department of Environmental Services

Water Contamination in N.H. Addressing PFOA

May 31, 2016
florianhuag / Flickr/CC

With new guidance from EPA on how much of the chemical is too much, and a lawsuit against the plastics plant that is its source, many Granite Staters are glad to see more action around the contamination. But others are still worried: both that the damage is already done, and that there's not enough assurance that it won't happen again.


Ceyhun (Jay) Isik / https://flic.kr/p/cG7qFL

In recent weeks, confusion and unease have increased in several New Hampshire towns where contamination with the chemical PFOA has been detected in private wells.

Though the EPA has yet to determine a safe level of PFOA in drinking water, Sarah Pillsbury, the administrator for public drinking water with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, is hoping that's about to change. 

Gloconda Beekman / Flickr/CC

After the Flint, Michigan water crisis, many around the country started taking a closer look their own water systems. And with a recent contamination scare in southern New Hampshire by the chemical PFOA  - the concerns have become local.  We'll look at the state's sources for drinking water, and the challenges to delivering it free from contaminants.

Via WeirsBeach.com

The Lakeport Dam is only about 222-feet wide and more than 60 years old, but it stands at a unique New Hampshire crossroads.

Upstream is Lake Winnipesaukee, the state’s largest lake covering more than 44½ thousands of acres of surface area and plunging to a depth of up to 212 feet.

Downstream is  the Winnipesaukee River, which travels through downtown Laconia (“The City of Lakes”) and then into Lake Winnisquam, the fourth-largest lake in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire’s program to clean up MTBE contamination is getting underway.

The Executive Council has approved funding for an Remediation Bureau, which will begin testing wells and water sources for MTBE contamination. The gasoline additive was intended to help the state address air pollution, but it was banned in 2007, years after the state began seeking damages from companies that produced and marketed gasoline with MTBE because of its effects on groundwater.

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 The Department of Environmental Services has lifted the fecal bacteria advisory on Weirs Beach in Laconia.  But advisories remain in place for Bartlett Beach and Opechee Cove. 

DES Beach Program Coordinator Sonya Carlson says contrary to earlier reports, there is no evidence right now that bacteria at the Weirs could be coming from so-called “sewage sludge.” Carlson points to water samples the EPA took there last year looking for traces of pharmaceuticals.

We sit down with New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Commissioner Thomas Burack.  The state’s environment has seen some hopeful trends recently, particularly when it comes to air quality. The story changes, however, when it comes to our lakes and coastal waters. We’ll get an update on what’s been working in addressing these issues, and what still needs to be done.

Guest

  • Tom Burack - New Hampshire Commissioner for Environmental Services

The Department of Environmental Services is investigating whether any air-protection measures were violated when several buildings at the Balsams were burned down as part of a renovation.

The fires took place on January 6th and destroyed a large dormitory and a second building once used to produce rubber and latex products.

Three North Country fire departments used the burn as a training exercise.

The fire also saved money for the new owners who wanted to demolish the buildings as part of a planned renovation.