Bedford residents with contaminated private wells have been told that a permanent remedy like a large public water line extension likely will not be coming this year.

Some local homeowners who have been receiving bottled water for nearly two years as part of the state’s consent decree with Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics will have to wait even longer, according to Michael Wimsatt of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.

Saint-Gobain is currently in the process of a major water sampling project aimed to help the company determine where the greatest impact of contamination is located, which will then be used to determine the best location for public water lines, or possible point-of-entry treatment systems where new water lines are not feasible, Wimsatt told Bedford residents during a virtual meeting on Thursday.

“We understand they expect to have that sampling completed by the end of this year,” he said.

While Wimsatt is hopeful that there could potentially be some smaller, targeted water line projects in at least one or more Bedford neighborhoods in the immediate future, any larger water line projects deemed necessary from the ongoing sampling effort will probably not take place in 2021, according to Wimsatt.

“It would probably be next year,” he said..

Bedford resident Ann Remus said she opted to test her home’s private well water on her own.

“We are over the limit,” she said of the PFAS contamination, explaining her house is located within the consent decree area.

Although they have lived in the home since 1984, Remus said she just learned about the water contamination in their private well.

“We have been drinking this water for a long, long time,” she said, questioning whether homeowners who do not want to wait for the public water line extension to be installed can seek reimbursement from Saint-Gobain if they install their own house filtration systems or point-of-entry filtration units.

Residents can opt to install filtration systems on their own, and if they live within the consent decree area and have documented contamination, they can attempt to seek reimbursement for that product from Saint-Gobain on their own terms, said Jeff Marts of NHDES.

Otherwise, Saint-Gobain is required, under its agreement with the state, to provide a permanent remedy for the well contamination within a certain radius of its Merrimack plant, explained Marts.

As of April 30, about 809 private wells have been sampled in Bedford, with about 317 of those wells exceeding ambient groundwater quality standards, said Marts, adding that among those 317 contaminated wells, 16 of them are located outside of the consent decree area. Overall, up to 5,000 wells need to be sampled, said Marts.

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