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Public Statements

Letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy - Shaheen, Ayotte, Kuster Call on EPA to Connect All Homes Showing Water Contamination to Public Water System

Press Release

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

New Hampshire lawmakers are calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to connect additional households in Atkinson showing chemical contamination in their water supply to a new water main to help ensure reliable access to safe drinking water. In a letter sent today to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) are requesting homes in the town of Atkinson that are showing any level of 1,4 Dioxane contamination be provided access to a new water main. The town of Atkinson has been struggling for the last several years with the contamination of 1,4 Dioxane -- a chemical solvent with hazardous effects -- in the drinking wells of 44 homes.

"It has come to our attention that only some households facing contamination will be provided access to a new water main," Shaheen, Ayotte and Kuster wrote in the letter. "Given the importance of providing reliable access to safe drinking water, we request that all homes showing 1,4-Dioxane contamination be connected to the water main."

They added, "Given the small additional cost that is within the current budget, we believe that it would be both proper and prudent that all homes testing for 1,4-Dioxane contamination be connected to the water main."

The letter from Shaheen, Ayotte and Kuster follows a recent EPA meeting in Atkinson, where residents were informed that only households where contamination levels were at or above 3.0 micrograms per liter (ug/L) would be connected to the local public water system, which will be extended under the EPA's Emergency Response and Removal program.

Many of the homes where the contaminant has been found to be present at concentrations below the 3.0 ug/L level, however, are located next door to, or very near to, homes that are above the standard. There is concern that when households in Atkinson currently testing over the determined contamination standard are connected to the local public water system, homes testing below the standard for contamination are more likely to see increased levels of contamination in their wells.

The full text of the letter is below.

December 16, 2013

The Honorable Gina McCarthy

Administrator

United States Environmental Protection Agency

Ariel Rios Building

1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC

Dear Administrator McCarthy:

As you may know, the town of Atkinson, New Hampshire has been struggling for the last several years with 1,4 Dioxane contamination which has been discovered in the drinking wells of forty-four homes. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been working diligently in partnership with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services to address this problem and we greatly appreciate your attention to this matter. However, it has come to our attention that only some households facing contamination will be provided access to a new water main. Given the importance of providing reliable access to safe drinking water, we request that all homes showing 1,4-Dioxane contamination be connected to the water main.

At a recent meeting in Atkinson in November, hosted by EPA, residents were informed that only homeowners whose contamination levels were at or above 3.0 ug/L would be connected to the local public water system, which is to be extended under the EPA's Emergency Response and Removal program. Many of the homes where the contaminant has been found to be present at concentrations below the 3.0 ug/L standard are located next door to, or very near to, homes that are above the standard. We are particularly concerned that when pumping stresses on the aquifer are removed by connecting the homes currently testing over 3.0 ug/L to the new water line, the homes below this standard are more likely to see increased levels of contamination in their wells.

The situation for the residents on Deer Run Road, where construction of a water main is not currently planned, is also of concern. Six of the nine homes on this street have had detections of the contaminant. In the event that future monitoring shows increased concentrations of the contaminant in any of these homes, these residents will have no viable option to obtain a safe, clean source of drinking water since there would be no water main to which to connect and no reliable in-home water treatment technology is currently available.

Given the small additional cost that is within the current budget, we believe that it would be both proper and prudent that all homes testing for 1,4-Dioxane contamination be connected to the water main. We appreciate your prompt attention to this matter as we understand that construction of the water main could be completed as early as the end of the month. If you have any questions about this letter, please contact Sarah Holmes of Senator Shaheen's staff (sarah_holmes@shaheen.senate.gov), Simon Thomson of Senator Ayotte's staff (simon_thomson@ayotte.senate.gov) or John Greene of Congresswoman Kuster's staff (john.greene@mail.house.gov).

Sincerely,

Jeanne Shaheen
Kelly Ayotte

United States Senator
United States Senator

Ann McLane Kuster
Member of Congress


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