By Doug Ireland
---- — ATKINSON — Deer Run Road residents learned from the federal Environmental Protection Agency yesterday they will soon have access to safe drinking water.
The eight homes on the street are among 47 in a neighborhood that have had contaminated water for several years. The EPA announced a water line will be extended along that street, EPA spokeswoman Emily Zimmerman said.
That means residents would no longer have to rely on bottled water.
Zimmerman said she notified the residents yesterday morning.
“They were very happy,” she said.
So was Town Administrator William Innes, who called the announcement “significant.” He praised the EPA and members of the state’s congressional delegation who made it happen, especially U.S. Sen Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.
“Now, the people will have the ability to hook up to another water (source),” Innes said. “The resale value of their homes has just gone up.”
Traces of the chemical 1,4 Dioxane — known to cause cancer — were detected three years ago in wells on Deer Run Road, Emery Drive, Belknap Drive and Brookside Terrace.
The EPA announced in May it would install a 1,000-foot water line to serve the homes.
But Deer Run Road was not on the list.
The main now will extend from the intersection of Deer Run Road and Oak Ridge Drive to the end of Deer Run Road, Zimmerman said.
The EPA has said it would only fund hook-up costs for 18 homes with water that exceeded the limit of three parts per billion of 1,4 Dioxane. Owners of 19 other homes would have to pay the hookup costs themselves.
Most — if not all — the Deer Run Road residents would have to pay for their own hookups, Innes said. Only one may be eligible to have the EPA fund the cost.
Emery Drive resident Paul DiMaggio has pushed for more government funding of water hookups, each costing between $3,000 to $10,000.
He is among the 18 for whom the EPA will fund the cost, but is concerned about residents who would have to pay for their own hookup. DiMaggio drafted a citizens petition voters will consider in March that would ask the town to provide $160,000 to connect the 19 homes.
He was pleased to hear more residents would have access to the water line.
“I’m tickled to death they are going to do Deer Run and give them the option to hook up,” DiMaggio said yesterday.
Shaheen, U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Congresswoman Annie Kuster, D-N.H., issued a joint statement about the project. They have asked the EPA to fund additional hookups.
“This is great news for Atkinson residents,” the congressional leaders said. “Reliable access to safe drinking water is of critical importance. The EPA’s decision to extend the water main will help ensure Atkinson is protected from harmful chemical contaminants.”
The EPA has allocated $2 million to fund the entire remediation project, Zimmerman said.
The source of the contamination is believed to be the release of a chemical solvent at the Johnston and Johnston property in 1989. The company, which manufactured rolled aluminum, sold the property at 128 Route 111 to Winfield Alloy, a recycling firm, in 2005.
Zimmerman said construction of the water line began late last fall, but came to a halt with the onset of winter. Work will resume this spring, she said.
“We want to get out there again as soon as we can,” she said. “It’s all weather dependent.”