MONTPELIER, VT. >> A top state environmental official says a fund being used to respond to the chemical contamination crisis in southwestern Vermont will be drained by the end of the year.

Environmental Conservation Commissioner Alyssa Schuren says her department hopes to come up with recommendations for strengthening the fund by next year.

Schuren says the fund is being used to respond to contamination found in a municipal water supply in Pownal by a chemical known as PFOA — perfluorooctanoic acid, a suspected carcinogen. It's also been found in private wells in North Bennington and Bennington.

The environmental contingency fund raises about $290,000 a year from fees on toxic chemicals, and gets money from settlements with polluters, but has about $3 million a year in demands on it.