By Alex Lippa
---- — ATKINSON — More than two dozen Atkinson homes continue to have contaminated well water, but an end may be in sight.
Town Administrator Bill Innes said the federal Environmental Protection Agency will likely soon make a deal with the Hampstead Area Water Company to provide water to the homes affected.
“They are in the process of doing a review of the site right now,” Innes said. “Within the next couple of weeks, we will have an answer.”
Innes said the project is likely to cost the EPA $3 million, which he described as a significant portion of its budget for New England.
The project was delayed due to the so-called fiscal cliff and the EPA’s budget not being set, according to Innes.
Once the project is approved, residents will have the option of having their homes hooked up with Hampstead Area Water Company.
The EPA and Hampstead Area Water Company did not return calls.
The state Department of Environmental Services has provided bottled water to some 15 households with well water containing more than 3 micrograms of Dioxane, a compound which can cause cancer.
Innes said the cause of the contamination continues to be investigated.
“At this point, they have done some testing,” he said. “But, the focus is to get the problem solved and to focus on getting people’s lives back to normal.”
The contamination was discovered in 2011 when the water was being tested for other substances. All the homes affected are on Emery and Belknap Drives.
Maureen Peck gets 30 gallons of water delivered to her Emery Drive home every month. She said the last year has been a major nuisance.
“All of our water has been stored in our garage,” she said. “Now that it’s winter, we are worried that it is going to freeze.”
Peck said the only time she uses tap water is to shower.
“We use the bottled water to wash all fruits and vegetables,” Peck said. “At Thanksgiving, it made it pretty difficult to wash a turkey.”
Neighbor David Rowell has kept the neighborhood updated about the latest meetings between the town and the EPA.
“We believe they have our best interest in mind,” Rowell said. “We feel they have been incredibly cooperative.”
But, Peck said, the whole neighborhood is getting a little fed up.
“It’s beginning to wear on everyone’s hearts,” she said. “A lot of people have houses for sale and just can’t sell them. We don’t know how long this is going to be.”