The State has reached an agreement in principle with Saint-Gobain for the properties on Bennington's east side affected by perfluooctanoic acid (PFOA) contamination. This represents a critical milestone in Vermont's response to the contamination that impacted hundreds of homes across the two communities. The agreement in principle will expand municipal water service to the majority of impacted homes on the east side of Bennington. The State and Saint-Gobain are awaiting the final design of the water system prior to formally finalizing the agreement. Once finalized, the State, Town of Bennington, or the Town's engineers will contact individual residents to discuss how the settlement agreement relates to their long-term drinking water solution.
"We are very pleased to be able to share this agreement with people of Bennington. I appreciate their incredible patience while we seek long-term clean water solutions on their behalf," said Governor Phil Scott. "This is a good day for Vermont and part of our larger effort to ensure safe drinking water for all Vermonters. I am grateful for the commitment of the entire state and local team and the willingness of Saint-Gobain to work with us to come to a resolution."
"We want to thank everyone in Bennington for their patience during this process," said Attorney General T.J. Donovan. "Clean drinking water is a human right. Getting clean water to the people of Bennington remains a daily focus of my Environmental Protection Division team. Today's announcement that we have the framework of a deal in place is great news, but you can be certain that we know the State's work is not done until the clean drinking water goal is met."
The waterline engineering and design will be finalized near the end of February. The Town's Engineer will then put the contract or contracts out to bid to begin construction as quickly as possible. Similar to the west side, this is anticipated to be a two-year construction period.
The agreement-in-principle anticipates water line extensions for the majority of homes on the east side of Bennington. As with the agreement for the west side of Bennington and North Bennington, some residences will either receive a new well or continue to have their treatment systems maintained until their wells are no longer contaminated. The success Saint-Gobain's engineering firm has had in achieving clean water through new wells is encouraging for impacted residents on both sides. The State recognizes residents will have questions about who will receive waterline extensions and residents can expect to receive communication shortly as once the waterline design is finalized.
As part of the agreement, the State will be the project lead on part of the waterline extension project working with the Town. For that section, the State will contribute $4.7 million additional funds beyond the agreed upon Saint-Gobain contribution to ensure that waterlines are extended to the maximum extent practicable. The Governor's recommended Fiscal Year 2020 budget includes a long-term plan for the needed funding.
On January 28th, State officials met with Bennington residents during a public meeting to discuss the terms of the east side agreement and to lay out what they can expect moving forward. Officials provided updates on the ongoing negotiations and offered more detail on the design of the east side waterline expansion. Residents with additional questions can find more information at http://dec.vermont.gov/commissioners-office/pfoa.
Media Contact: Chuck Schwer, Waste Management and Prevention Division Director, Department of Environmental Conservation, Agency of Natural Resources, 802-249-5324, firstname.lastname@example.org