Merrimack and Litchfield state representatives are drafting legislation that would place several requirements on companies found to be responsible for polluting groundwater.
Those requirements would include connecting private wells to commercial or municipal water lines, as well as paying for those water bills.
In Merrimack, Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics has connected hundreds of homeowners with private wells to municipal water lines after PFOA contamination was discovered at the plant a few years ago. However, residents who previously used private wells are now responsible for paying for their own water bills.
“We are looking at the responsible company then paying the water bills of those they have hooked up for five years, or until the property is sold,” said state Rep. Ralph Boehm of Litchfield, who said that time limit may be adjusted.
Boehm is working with other state representatives, including Rich Lascelles of Litchfield, Mark McLean of Manchester and Jeanine Notter of Merrimack.
Boehm said the point is to help communities deal with businesses responsible for water contamination.
“Other towns might have problems with other companies,” Boehm said, noting the proposal is not specific to Saint-Gobain.
The bill would require companies that pollute the groundwater to immediately supply drinking water to homes and businesses with private wells until a municipal water line connection is possible. If a water hookup cannot take place in a reasonable time, Boehm said the company should pay to install water filters at homes
Public water bills, based on the average use of comparable homes, should also be reimbursed for a certain number of years, he said.
If there is a finding that the company did pollute the water, this legislation would add to the responsibilities of a company and clarify what those responsibilities involve, according to McLean.
“It anticipates those things that might happen in the future,” he said, adding it goes beyond PFOA to include all levels of contaminants.
Litchfield’s Lascelles said the legislation would be extremely beneficial for homeowners who are happy with their private wells and have to switch to a municipal water line — a situation that many Merrimack and Litchfield homeowners found themselves in with the Saint-Gobain issue.