By John Seidenberg
Londonderry residents have a range of financial assistance programs available pertaining to PFAS and other contaminants although they are geared toward public water systems and not residential wells.
Many of these funding programs are intended to address community water systems in town already known to have PFAS levels, Erin Holmes, administrator with the Drinking Water and Groundwater Bureau at the NH Department of Environmental Services, told residents at the May 20 PFAS informational session.
The financial assistance varies from studies to assist with decision making on water treatments to large-scale infrastructure projects for extending water lines.
Federal stimulus money also is available even though how it can be used within the state on PFAS and other issues in community water systems is still being worked out, Holmes said.
There is no established funding mechanism at present for private wells.
The PFAS Remediation Loan Fund for capital infrastructure offers low-interest loans with the potential for principal forgiveness if eligible and contingent reimbursement for PFAS contamination. These may be for disadvantaged community water systems that could benefit from having part of a loan forgiven.
Contingent reimbursement could be for any system entering into a loan through this program. The reimbursement would come from any lawsuit funds the state is awarded for communities participating in the loan agreements, Holmes said.
The program, which has a $50 million appropriation, is designed for water systems facing a major treatment upgrade or wanting to interconnect with an adjoining public water system due to PFAS in wells or in a water supply.
As of the end of 2020, $153 million was available under it for low-interest loans and grants for any size public water systems, municipalities, or any political subdivision in the state.
The DWGTF is overseen by an advisory commission which makes funding decisions addressing contamination and study assistance. DES administers awards of grants and loans to entities for projects.
Among other programs is one for PFAS Treatment Design Services. Currently it has $800,000 appropriated for various types of water systems as well as for all schools and child care centers affected by PFAS.
Reimbursement is made up to 26 percent of a total project cost. This assistance is for studies to assist with treatment, design, or infrastructure projects.
Additionally, the Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund focuses on small community water systems serving populations of up to 1,000. Earlier this year a proposal was presented to the advisory commission for a $200,000 appropriation to administer the consolidation feasibility study assistance program.
This grant program, which functions on a first come first serve basis, can address PFAS, arsenic, manganese, a dry well, or a water line extension. The recipient receives a $10,000 grant to develop a feasible long-term solution or future decisions for the issue at hand. It doesn’t cover infrastructure or construction.
The special projects assistance program accepts applications at any time for grants and loans to deal with water system contamination.
Lisa Drabik, Londonderry assistant town manager, also noted the town continues to study PFAS and provide guidance to residents about options. It is hosting an information workshop June 17 at Londonderry High School with testing and mitigation vendors and DES present to answer questions.
The town plans to apply for a grant through the trust fund in hopes of offering a rebate of possibly up to $500 to each homeowner whose wells have tested in excess of PFAS standards. Citizens could then take action on their own based on well results.
Holmes and Amy Rousseau, PFAS response administrator at DES, are overseeing the state programs. Holmes concentrates more broadly on the trust fund for water systems and Rousseau focuses on PFAS. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at email@example.com.