DES Offers Water Sampling in Pelham Area with MtBE Concerns

October 3, 2014
 
by Lynne Ober

A number of years ago the state obtained funds as a result of the settlement of MtBE litigation with refiners and manufacturers of MtBE, a gasoline additive used from the late ‘70s through 2006.  The terms of the settlement agreement require the use of the funds for MtBE-related cleanups.  If a water supply is contaminated over drinking water standards with MtBE, the program will install a system to provide clean drinking water.  Pelham water has been a concern and some MtBE has previously been found in wells.

DES will be conducting a voluntary water quality sampling program in certain areas of Pelham.  They will be offering to collect and analyze drinking water supply samples for volatile organic contaminants from homes and businesses near the intersections of Bridge Street (Rte. 38) and Coburn Avenue, Tiger Avenue and Jericho Road.  Nearby portions of Currier Road will also be included.  A letter announcing this program will be sent to property owners who have property in the affected area.

Gary Lynn, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) MtBE Remediation Bureau Administrator, notified officials that the program will begin soon and sent out a sample letter that will go to property owners in the affected area of Pelham.  Lynn said, “We will be offering to collect and analyze drinking water supply samples for volatile organic contaminants from homes and businesses near the intersections of Bridge Street (Rte. 38) and Coburn Avenue, Tiger Avenue and Jericho Road.  Nearby portions of Currier Road will also be included.”  He indicated letters would be sent soon.

According to Lynn, “This area has been selected for inclusion in the sampling program because it is vulnerable to releases of gasoline.  There are several known releases of gasoline in this area and a relatively vulnerable shallow aquifer.  The size of the sampling area has been conservatively selected; inclusion in the sampling program does not necessarily mean a well is contaminated.  The only way to determine whether there is an actual water quality concern at a property is to sample and analyze water wells.”

There will be no cost to property owners for this sampling.  Lynn said, “NHDES will collect a sample, provide you with a copy of the results, and explain the results if treatment is necessary.  More information may be obtained from our website at: http://des.nh.gov/organization/divisions/waste/mtbe/index.htm.  Lynn acknowledged that there may be other issues with drinking water and urged owners to have their water tested.

Because of the limits of the settlement, DES will only pay for water sampling related to MtBE.  “Even though NHDES can only pay for a MtBE-related (VOC) analysis, which also includes other common gasoline and chemical contaminants ($120 value),” said Lynn, “we can collect any other samples that you would like to have analyzed and simultaneously deliver them to the laboratory along with the VOC sample.  If you elect to have additional analyses added, you will need to pay for those analyses.”

Property owners should watch for the letters, which should arrive soon.