City Hosts Dedication of the Pease Water Treatment Facility

May 3, 2021

The City of Portsmouth Department of Public Works will dedicate the new Pease Water Treatment Facility located at 97 Grafton Drive in Portsmouth on Tuesday May 4, 2021 at 10:30 am. (Facility tours in small groups at 10:30; speakers at 11 am.) Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Senator Maggie Hassan, together with Representative Chris Pappas and Jennifer Miller, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Energy, Installations, and Environment will tour the facility and speak about the progress in responding to Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination at Pease and throughout the rest of the country.

The completion of the Pease facility marks the culmination of seven years of response to the presence of PFAS contaminants that were found in May 2014 to be impacting three Pease drinking water wells. Past use of firefighting foam at the former Pease Air Base containing PFAS compounds contributed to this contamination. Subsequently, the Air Force agreed to work with the City to treat the drinking water serving the Pease International Tradeport system.

Brian Goetz, Deputy Director of Public Works commented, “We are pleased to announce completion of the Pease Water Treatment Facility to celebrate the success of the ongoing City partnership with the Air Force in addressing a complicated and evolving PFAS contaminant issue.”

Portsmouth City Manager Karen Conard also celebrated the completion of the facility, commenting, “This project is essential to the City’s ongoing commitment to supplying reliable drinking water to the customers of the Pease International Tradeport. It is unfortunate that we were faced with the challenge of this complex drinking water contaminant. Our staff, consultants, regulators and the Air Force continue to be diligent in their response, including designing and constructing this state of the art water treatment facility.”

The City of Portsmouth and the United States Air Force signed an agreement in 2018 to treat perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) from water supplied by the Smith, Harrison and Haven Wells serving the Pease Tradeport drinking water system. The agreement provided the City with funds to reimburse the cost of construction of the final treatment system for all three wells, including a dual filtration system consisting of resin and granular activated-carbon filters. The construction of the new Pease Water Treatment Facility followed extensive research, pilot testing and design of a system to treat the contamination. In partnership with the Air Force, the City conducted a demonstration project starting in September 2016. This project involved the installation of granular activated carbon (GAC) filters for the Harrison and Smith Wells. Subsequently the City was invited by the firm ECT2 to pilot resin filter technology for the treatment. The success of that pilot led to the inclusion of resin in the final facility, which together with granular activated carbon filters (GAC) will remove PFAS compounds from the drinking water.

Design of the facility was led by Weston & Sampson. The construction project was awarded to Kinsmen Corporation in April 2019.

Goetz added, “The cooperative efforts of all involved, including the Air Force’s Civil Engineering staff, have really helped this project succeed. Throughout the course of the two years of construction, the City’s water operations staff have worked tirelessly to keep water flowing to the customers of the Tradeport. I thank them, personally, for their efforts. We couldn’t have done it without such a great team.”

Dr. Steve TerMaath, Chief, of the Air Force’s BRAC Program Management Division, has stated, “Working directly with the City, the Pease Development Authority and State and federal regulators to address PFOS/PFOA has been a top priority at Pease since the discovery of these emerging contaminants in 2014. The leadership provided by the City and active communication and collaboration among the parties have been instrumental to the success of this initiative.”