CONCORD — The state’s top environmental official is standing by his department’s work on reducing water contamination despite a lawsuit filed against recently imposed stricter regulations.
In June, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services brought forth new standards for levels of four per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water, which took effect on Tuesday.
“NHDES does not comment on pending lawsuits, however I do stand behind and support the outstanding work being done every day by NHDES staff on the PFAS issue,” said Robert Scott, NHDES commissioner, in a statement.
The lawsuit, filed in Merrimack Superior Court by the Plymouth Village Water & Sewer District, Resource Management Inc., Charles G. Hanson, a farmer, and 3M Company claims the new regulations violate the state’s constitution as an unfunded mandate. The lawsuit says the state failed to take into consideration the cost of the regulations.
The Plymouth Village Water & Sewer District says the state rushed the rule-making process.
“We did not take this step lightly, but the new rules will have a significant financial impact on the customers of our small water and sewer district,” the district wrote in a statement. “These new regulations will create a massive unfunded liability that the customers of the Plymouth Village Water and Sewer District, along with every other municipal utility in NH will be expected to absorb, without any consideration to the immediate or long term impacts on the users or sustainability of the systems.”
The district says it works with NHDES every day and is not opposed to appropriate regulation “based on sound science” and with consideration for costs. The district hopes to force the department to take another look at the regulations.
“Without the funding to support implementation this is an unfunded mandate that we cannot absorb or passively accept,” the statement reads.
“We respect the folks at DES and understand their motivation but we believe that it did not have to be this way — with a little more time and a lot more discussion and collaboration with those in the field we could likely have achieved a more workable result.”