Eight households in New Hampshire with elevated levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in their well water will have to wait for new filtration systems due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis.
Most staff from the state Department of Environmental Services (DES) have begun working from home, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader. The process of designing and approving new home filtration systems are planned, but social distancing guidelines have put a halt on home installation efforts.
“Unfortunately right now, everything is on hold,” said Town Manager Kevin Smith. “This PFAS issue is a very important issue and it’s not something that we’re going to allow to be put on the back burner, but obviously a large portion of our efforts is on combating the COVID-19 issue in the town.”
The discovery of PFAS chemicals exceeding state standards at the properties on Lancaster Drive occurred in Nov. 2019. The home wells were tested after elevated levels were discovered at a monitoring well at the site of the Apple Tree Shopping Center’s old septic system in July 2019.
According to the owner, George Vernet, the site was previously being tested for cleaning solvents from a former dry-cleaning business that was in the plaza and DES directed them to begin testing for PFAS last year. Vernet is cooperating with state officials to mitigate the issue, reported the New Hampshire Union Leader.
So far, he has already spent over $250,000 to replace the old septic system and about $100,000 for water tests through Cooperstown Environmental. An additional $5,000 to $6,000 per filtration system will be needed as well.
Vernet said one household took it upon itself to pay for its own point-of-entry filter systems in two parts of the home. So far, Vernet said, initial tests show the filters are doing their job and the water is clean.
The rest of the households will be drinking bottled water for the time being, from Venet’s company, Vernco Apple LLC. Testing of the water samples is also on hold.