By Katelyn Fournier
NH House Bill 1610 requires property sellers to provide information on environmentally hazardous sites and to disclose water tests of MTBE or per-fluorinated chemicals within one-mile of the property. I believe that the bill is a great idea and that the information it requires to be shared is information a buyer should very well be aware of when looking into buying a property. But, if it were up to me I would not pass it as written. I believe with some revisions the bill could become even stronger and would become more likely to be passed.
Within the bill there are a few things that could either be elaborated on or that raise questions. First, after the water has been tested, how long is that test valid for? On average a community water supplier is required to test their water annually. But that is for a whole community of people. One suggestion is that the private water tests could be valid for the year after the house is sold, and from then on is the responsibility of the property owner to get their private water tested when they see fit. This could be during situations such as if there is water discoloration, if the water tastes funky or if they just want to get their water tested to be on the safe side. Another suggestion is to require routine yearly water tests for the first few years after the house is sold. But that would require more work on the seller and owner of the property thus making suggestion one more desirable.
Another question within the bill is, is a one-mile distance around the property sufficient? Depending on the way you view it one mile could either be too much or too little. A one-mile radius around a property is big. But, with any water source there could be runoffs. So, what if a runoff is outside that one mile radius but leaks into a water source within that one mile. Should that runoff be tested too? This proves there should be an increase in distance. A reason to decrease the mileage is because testing all the water sources within one mile could be time consuming and expensive for both the property seller and buyer. But when it comes to environmental and human safety you cannot be too cautious.
In the bill, there are seven environmental hazards that it covers: auto salvage yards, hazardous waste generators, remediation sites, solid waste facilities, underground storage tanks, environmental monitoring sites and local potential contamination sources. But those aren't the only seven environmental hazards in existence, the ones listed are very specific. Is there a way to rephrase the bill so that it includes all environmental hazards in one sentence? A person has the right to know if they are potentially exposing themselves to a risk. Therefore, instead of being specific, the bill should be a little broader in what it states an environmental hazard is.
These comments and questions only aim to improve an already great bill and help citizens with questions better understand the bill and issue at hand.
NH Science for Citizens
Keene, NH 03431
A project of students and scientists in collaboration with local citizens and NH state representatives.