Read the full article by Melissa Cooney (WCAX3)
“The state of Vermont continues to grapple with cleaning out contaminated PFAS chemicals in public water systems. Craftsbury Commons’ water system is one of 20 public systems statewide that have exceeded the state standards for the amount of PFAS in the water.
PFAS are a group of chemicals that are in just about everything we use, from food packaging to furniture to firefighting foam. They don’t break down easily and stay in the environment and water for a long time. The Vermont Department of Health says PFAS exposure could lead to developmental effects and cancer, to name a few.
Gina Campoli from Craftsbury Fire District #2 is making tea the same way she has since December 2021, using water out of the jug she picks up once a week down the road. ‘You can do laundry, you can shower, but anything that’s going into your mouth — all the drinking water — Is bottled water,’ said Campoli. She also says the sources impacting the water are under investigation.
About 300 people, including those attending the K-12 Craftsbury Academy and Sterling College, have not been permitted to drink the water for over a year and a half. ‘It makes life difficult for the kitchen staff. They have to use the bottled water and jugs,’ said Joe Houston with the Orleans Southwest Supervisory Union.
Since January 2022, the state has spent up to $50,000 delivering gallons of bottled water to the area once a week. ‘It’s a daily and weekly rhythm of replenishing the water and being cognizant of not doing the things you would normally do when you turn on the tap,’ said Nicole Civita from Sterling College.
For those not from the area, it can be even harder to adjust when they come to visit. ‘When we have teams coming in for basketball games and other events with people coming in from the outside that may not know there’s not going to be any water there,’ said Houston.
The Craftsbury Fire District #2 has been working to find a new source to connect water to a pump house. In 2021, voters in the district supported a bond to get a state loan that’s up to $730,000 so far. They’ve drilled two new wells — one came up dry and the other didn’t have enough clean water. They’re hoping the third time’s a charm as opposed to treating the water.
‘If this well doesn’t come up with the quantity we need, that option may be on the table. The long-term operating costs of that are daunting. We would need a building, we would need a full-time operator, we wouldn’t be able to fit in there.’ Campoli said.
They’re not alone. With 20 of the state’s public water systems exceeding safe standards, experts say six public water systems are under do not drink orders, like Craftsbury Commons.
Bryan Redmond with the Department of Environmental Conservation says the other systems with ‘do not drink’ orders are Woodbury Elementary, Moguls Sports Pub in Killington, E. Taylor Hatton in Morgan, Kids in the Country in Dover, and Mt. Holly School. He says the state is actively working with these systems to find solutions.
Woodbury School, which is in the same supervisory union as Craftsbury Academy, is on its own water system that’s contaminated and has been deemed undrinkable since October. Unlike Craftsbury, there’s no water district working to fix the problem. Houston and school staff are working with the state to figure out how to treat the water or find a new source. ‘Hopefully, that won’t take as long as it has here in Craftsbury. Right now, we’re prepared for it. It might be a little while before we get a solid source there again,’ said Houston.”…