Low-income well owners have some help available

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Low-income homeowners in New Hampshire whose wells have gone dry may apply to a special relief fund for free bottled water deliveries.

To be eligible, homeowners must be at or below 80 percent of the area median household income and they must have no water due to the ongoing drought. According to income figures released with the application, the figures vary by county, and for the Manchester area, a two-person household would have to make less than $54,600 a year to qualify.

The $1.5 million fund was announced Friday by Gov. Chris Sununu. The special relief was coordinated by the NH Drinking Water and Groundwater Advisory Commission and the NH Department of Environmental Services.

The provision of bottled water for drinking and cooking is intended to be a temporary measure until the household receives assistance to permanently mitigate the well that has gone dry.

Financial assistance for improving or replacing dry residential wells or for connecting to an existing community water system is also available for qualifying low-income homeowners through a grant from the N.H. Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund, according to the press release issued Friday.

Laboratory costs for testing are an eligible expense covered by the grant.

“Due to the drought, many Granite Staters have no other option than to upgrade their wells to ensure a steady supply of clean drinking water for their homes. These upgrades are expensive and are often completely unaffordable for some of our friends and neighbors. This program will be a lifeline to those who otherwise could not afford these essential upgrades,” said state Sen. Chuck Morse, chairman of the N.H. Drinking Water and Groundwater Advisory Commission.

DES commissioner Bob Scott said, “Given the severity of the drought, recent precipitation has done relatively little to alter drought conditions impacting residential wells in New Hampshire. Residents still need to take every action to conserve water now and for the foreseeable future.”

Information about income eligibility requirements and the amount of financial assistance for permanent drought relief measures are available on the NHDES Drought Management Webpage. Emergency drought assistance is available to eligible households retroactive to costs incurred since June 23rd. Homeowners interested in assistance are asked to complete a survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/wellwaterhelp. Income figures are also available through this site.

Those with questions about the survey or eligibility may email droughtwellinfo@des.nh.gov or call Paige Relf at 271-1355.