The town of Bedford is considering extending a public water line to a small area north of Route 101, where private well water is contaminated.

Recent testing has discovered that well water along Bedford Center Road from Wallace Road to North Amherst Road, in the vicinity of the town offices down to the former Harvest Market site, have PFAS contamination levels that are concerning, according to Rick Sawyer, town manager.

“I believe all properties along Bedford Center Road, with the exception of the town office building, have come back with PFAS contamination above the state limit,” he said.

Although a previous consent decree between Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics in Merrimack and the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services requires the company to correct water contamination in select areas of Bedford and nearby communities, Sawyer said this area north of Route 101 is not included in that agreement.

“There is no responsible party to be identified yet, and obviously these property owners are concerned they are on the hook — for something they didn’t cause in any way — to get their own clean drinking water,” he said.

Sawyer said the town has submitted a request for federal earmark money for a line that would provide public water to those homes and businesses impacted by the contamination in this section north of Route 101.

He is also speaking with representatives from DES about opportunities to receive grant or loan money through the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds to pay for that water line project, which is estimated to cost between $700,000 and $900,000.

Senator Denise Ricciardi (R-Bedford) said it would be beneficial if DES could determine whether Saint-Gobain was the cause of this contamination.

“It is airborne, so it is not out of the realm of possibility,” she said of the chemical spread. “ … I am going to look into that.”

According to Sawyer, Saint-Gobain could possibly be held responsible for properties north of Route 101 if the PFAS contamination levels are above 70 parts per trillion.

However, they are currently between 12 ppt and up to 30 ppt; the revised state standards are 11 to 18 ppt.

“Five years ago this wasn’t contaminated and now, by act of Legislature, it is contaminated,” said town councilor Bill Duschatko noting state legislators lowered the threshold for PFAS contamination in 2019.

Aside from Saint-Gobain, there are other areas of potential impact, including landfills in Merrimack and Bedford, Sawyer said.

“In the last two weeks we were just notified that we have another contributor to PFAS chemicals in our community, which is from the New Boston Air Force Station,” he said.

The main area of concern is the Pulpit Rock area, where extensive testing has been conducted.

Recently, it was discovered that DES and Saint-Gobain were notifying homeowners within 40 feet of properties that have elevated levels of contamination that their neighbor’s property was impacted, though the state standard is to notify neighbors within 500 feet.

Once this was brought to the attention of state officials, it was remedied immediately and additional well testing was promptly initiated, according to Sawyer.

“They are doing significant investigation in the private wells in terms of hundreds of wells being tested and we are all eagerly waiting the results of those tests and to hear what the state is going to require Saint-Gobain to do for the wells that are exceeding the new state limits,” Sawyer said.

Some people in the area of Smith Road who have been using bottled water for 18 months still have not been connected to public water, he said.

He expects the area near Sebbins Pond will also need public water lines, as well as several other large neighborhoods in that area.

DES has not indicated how those properties, where the source of contamination has already been determined to be Saint-Gobain, will be remedied, according to Sawyer.


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