Hopewell Township and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) hosted a virtual public meeting earlier this month to address contaminants found in residential water. The contaminants, Per – and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a group of manmade chemicals designed for commercial use. They can enter drinking water through industrial release, discharges from sewage treatment plants, sludge, landfill leaching, and certain fire-fighting foams. Meeting topics covered legislation designed to protect water purity, Hopewell area water quality investigations, solutions for affected homeowners, and information on financial assistance.
Hopewell Township Mayor Courtney Peters-Manning opened the meeting by introducing DEP moderator Thomas Brinckman from the Office of Local Government Assistance. DEP’s environmental specialist, Brandon Carreno, then gave an overview of legislation designed to regulate PFAS and other chemicals.
Carreno discussed the New Jersey Private Well Testing Act, which covers testing, sample collection and analysis, reporting results, and criteria for notifying nearby property owners. He also discussed the Drinking Water Quality Institute, which focuses on public water systems, and the NJ Safe Drinking Water Act, which empowers DEP with enforcement authority.
Focusing on the Hopewell area, Immediate Concern Unit case managers Ronald Trauger and Alexandra Skinner discussed groundwater contaminants found in three areas of investigation within the Township.
- Within the first area, Pennington-Titusville Road, 70 wells were sampled. Twenty five exceeded a PFAS standard and nine exceeded the volatile organic compound standard.
- Within the Route 31 & Tree Farm Road area, 60 wells were sampled and 10 exceeded a PFAS standard.
- Within the Bear Tavern Road area, 45 wells were sampled and 17 exceeded a PFAS standard.
They also discussed treatment options: Point of Entry Treatment (POET), which connects water from the well to a system designed to filter out the contaminants; and public water access, which would provide a home owner with a connection to a public water supply. Bottled water is recommended as a temporary solution while a more permanent water system is installed.
Focusing on the monetary aspect of treatment options, Donald Kakas, a DEP section chief, discussed the New Jersey Spill Compensation Fund, which can pay for the cost of remediating a home owner’s water system. The fund prioritizes home owners first for claims processing, followed by schools or child care facilities, followed by all others. Kakas reviewed the guidelines for filing claims, which include submitting the application by traceable mail; providing copies of initial and confirming water test results from certified laboratories; including a copy of a current tax bill or deed; including three estimates for a POET system or, if a waterline is available, estimates from licensed plumbers and well sealers.
Following DEP’s presentation, Peters-Manning moderated a question and answer session from inquiries submitted by home owners before the meeting.
Health Related questions were not addressed in this session. However, DEP provided attendees with a link to health information: NJDEP | PFAS | Your Health and PFAS.
The website states that in a large study of communities with PFOA in their drinking water, the substance was associated with: high cholesterol; some forms of cancer; thyroid disease; ulcerative colitis; and pregnancy-induced hypertension. The report states that information may be available from county and local health departments.
Below is a partial list of questions from residents. A link to the complete list is provided at the end of this article.
* How can we determine if there is PFAS in our neighborhood?
DEP recommends that you call your Township or County health department, which will have records of well testing and results.
* Do I need to have my well tested for PFAS?
DEP recommends that all wells be tested for PFAS and other contaminants if sampling has not been done before.
* How much do water tests, including PFAS, cost?
DEP records show that costs range from $300 -$600 per test.
* How often should our well water be tested if we have a POET system?
* Has the drinking water at the schools in Hopewell Township been tested for PFAS?
DEP: If a school has over 25 staff and students and has their own well or is a school that is connected to a public water system, their water is being sampled for the three regulated PFAS.
For more information:
Access this meeting presentation and pre-submitted questions https://www.hopewelltwp.org/667/6885/DEP-PFAS-Public-Meeting-August-23-2022
pfas_drinking water.pdf (nj.gov)
Well testing: Labs certified with the Private Well Testing Act (PWTA) www.state.nj.us/dep/watersupply/pwta/pwta_lablist.htm
Spill Fund Information
Spill Fund General Questions Hotline: [email protected]
Immediate Concern Case Managers (Serving Hopewell)
General Questions (Hopewell contact)
DEP Office of Community Relations