BOSTON, MA — The Baker-Polito Administration recently announced that $950,728 is being awarded to 12 public water suppliers through the Interim PFAS6 Response Grant Program to support immediate efforts to address elevated levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in their drinking water. The funding will help offset the cost of initial responses implemented when “PFAS6” (the sum of six PFAS substances) exceeds the state standard of 20 parts-per-trillion (ppt). The grants were awarded to water suppliers in the Towns of Avon, Barnstable (Hyannis), Boxborough, Burlington, Chatham, Dudley, Hopkinton, Natick, Wellesley, West Bridgewater, and Wilmington, and the City of Woburn. Additionally, this is the second round of funding through the program, which is administered by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP).
The Wilmington Water Department received a $99,696 grant to support the replacement of an existing granular activated carbon filters with an alternative carbon media to remove PFAS6 contamination.
“The safety of the Commonwealth’s drinking water remains a priority for our Administration, and when PFAS contaminate a local water supply, it must be addressed to ensure the public health is protected from its harmful effects,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Importantly, these grants will aid local communities and water systems to cover the costs to remediate PFAS contamination, ensuring residents have access to drinking water that is clean and safe to consume.”
“Water systems are continuously hard at work protecting critical water resources, and this funding will assist in their efforts in providing safe drinking water while plans for permanent treatment are underway,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “We will continue to support community efforts in providing safe, clean and healthy drinking water for all communities throughout Massachusetts.”
MassDEP has offered two rounds of funding through the Interim PFAS6 Response Grant Program. More than $1.2 million was awarded during the first round to address PFAS contamination. The second-round grants will reimburse for eligible costs to assist communities that have already expended funds to address elevated levels of PFAS6. Use of the funds by public water supply systems include:
- The purchasing and distribution of bottled water,
- The installation of water vending machines; and,
- The purchasing of water and/or the establishing of interconnections to alternative water sources or take any other immediate action to provide safe drinking water to PFAS6-impacted water users.
“Providing fund through the PFAS6 Response Grant Program further builds on the aggressive actions the Baker-Polito Administration is taking here in Massachusetts to protect the public and the environment from the harmful impacts of PFAS contamination,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “This critical funding will support the efforts of local water suppliers as they implement interim solutions and plot their long-tem strategy to eliminate PFAS from their water supply.”
“MassDEP is pleased to partner with public water suppliers to mitigate PFAS contamination, so that clean, safe drinking water is available for all Massachusetts residents,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “These grants will help cover costs already expended to address PFAS6 contamination, including bottled water, filtration and water vending systems, or alternative water-source connections.”
All community public water systems are required to test for PFAS6. If found above the state standard, water systems are required to eliminate or minimize the threat to public health by turning off a contaminated water source, connecting to a neighboring water supply, or taking other steps to ensure that clean drinking water is available to all system users.
The Baker-Polito Administration has allocated $2.2 million in operating funds to support the program. This funding is in addition to the $28.4 million secured by the Administration in two supplemental budgets for water infrastructure and PFAS testing. Through the supplemental budget, $20 million was appropriated to the Commonwealth’s Clean Water Trust, providing financing that can be used by communities to address contamination issues. Additionally, more than $8.4 million of this funding supports a statewide sampling program for public water supplies and private wells, including a grant program to support design of PFAS treatment. Conducting statewide testing of drinking water for PFAS is providing the data to support MassDEP’s strategy for treatment and mitigation of this emerging contaminant. In September 2020, the Administration announced the first round of grants to support design of PFAS treatment, awarding $1.9 million to 10 public water supply systems, and announced a second round in March 2021, awarding $3 million to 17 public water supply systems.
PFAS compounds are a family of chemicals widely used since the 1950s to manufacture common consumer products and used in some legacy fire-fighting foams. Drinking water may become contaminated if PFAS deposited onto the soil seeps into groundwater or surface water. PFAS have been linked to a variety of health risks, particularly in women who are pregnant or nursing, and in infants. In October of 2020, the Baker-Polito Administration established a protective standard of 20 ppt for PFAS in drinking water and required water systems to regularly test for the contaminants. There are currently no federal PFAS standards for drinking water. For additional information on the PFAS6 Response Grant Program, please visit the program webpage.
MassDEP’s mission is to protect and enhance the Commonwealth’s natural resources – air, water and land – to provide for the health, safety and welfare of all people, and a clean and safe environment for future generations. In carrying out this mission, MassDEP commits to address and advance environmental justice and equity for all people of the Commonwealth, provide meaningful, inclusive opportunities for people to participate in agency decisions that affect their lives, and ensure a diverse workforce that reflects the communities served by the agency.
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