An assistant New Hampshire environmental commissioner said a mouthful in a discussion on water contamination this week.

“Our real frustration is at the national level,” said Clark Freise, of the Department of Environmental Services. He also said that “We really do need federal funds.”

Yep, we certainly will need federal assistance. But the first issue, and one that frustrates a lot of people, is the failure of federal government and qualified scientists to determine just what is an unsafe level of PFA-related contaminants in drinking water.

Throwing buckets of money at a problem without determining just how much of a problem we have is typical of government.

U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas was quick to endorse taking “additional steps to make sure that we have tough standards in place to regulate PFAs.”

But just what should that standard be, congressman?

There is still much unknown about just what these contaminants can cause in the way of illness, at what level, and just where in New Hampshire they are.

One thing that does seem certain is, that “the costs are staggering” for remediation.

Municipal Association Executive Director Margaret Byrnes cited an estimate of “nearly $200 million” to comply with new state standards that seem to have been plucked out of thin air at a legislative rules session this summer.

Those standards are not only way below the limits being studied at the federal level; they are lower than what the state DES had recommended.

We all want clean water, to be sure.

But having just adopted new arsenic-in-water standards that are going to cost towns and cities a small fortune, we need to know what is truly needed on PFAs and PFOs before we throw out the baby, the bath water, and what’s left of our wallets.