HAMPSTEAD — Hampstead Area Water Company denies that its use of groundwater is unreasonable and that it’s responsible for harming private wells.
The privately owned public water utility is fighting a lawsuit filed in September by several residents who claim that its large groundwater production well has withdrawn an “unreasonable” volume of water and eliminated or severely restricted use of their own wells.
Some homeowners on Main Street have complained about their wells being impacted by the water company’s operation in recent years.
The suit was filed in Rockingham County Superior Court by David and Deanna Anthony and 14 others — none of whom are customers.
In addition to Hampstead Area Water Company, Lewis Builders Development Inc. and Hampstead Area Water Services Company were also named as defendants in the suit and have denied many of the residents’ allegations.
The Anthonys drilled multiple wells to try to get water, claiming Hampstead Area Water Company pumped too much from a production well in the Kent Farm well field. They said that after the company cut back on the amount it was withdrawing, their water returned, but that the quality is bad and they can’t drink it.
They allege that the defendants intentionally installed a new well without complying with laws and regulations; failed to conduct a proper pump test before using the new well; operated the well without proper approval; and pumped the well at “unreasonable” rates that were higher than the rates of the wells the new one replaced.
The state Department of Environmental Services investigated groundwater level conditions in the area of the Anthonys’ home at 414 Main St. and found that “the primary cause for declining groundwater levels in the vicinity of 414 Main Street from July 2017 through December 2018 is the operation of the Hampstead Area Water Company (HAWC) Kent Farm well field, which is located approximately 2,500 feet east of 414 Main Street.”
In its response, the water company maintains that the well in question was permitted by DES and that it complied with all applicable laws and regulatory requirements.
It also insists that its groundwater use was reasonable, that it hasn’t interfered with the residents’ use of their property, and that “any interference was not substantial and therefore does not rise to an intentional property claim.” The company argues that it has a right to pump groundwater from the Kent Farm well field.
“The defendant acted pursuant to an immediate and imperative necessity, in good faith to protect the public good,” the company’s response said.