BOSTON, MA – The Town of Cohasset was recently awarded $182,500 to support efforts to address elevated levels of PFAS in drinking water. 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.
“Municipalities across the Commonwealth need this funding to adequately protect their drinking water from harmful contaminants and ensure the health of their residents,” said Senator Patrick O’Connor (R-Weymouth). “I’m looking forward to seeing Cohasset’s project progress and I appreciate the support the Administration has given to this effort.”
“Contamination of public drinking water is of utmost importance to both environmental and public health,” said Representative Meschino (D-Hull). “This funding is a crucial first step to cleaning, and ultimately maintaining, healthy, drinkable water for all present and future Cohasset residents.”
“Maintaining a high-quality drinking water supply is one of the most important things we can do for our residents,” said Cohasset Town Manager Christopher Senior. “This grant will help Cohasset proactively ensure the Town’s water system meets all state requirements.”
The award was a part of a funding round that saw $3 million in grants given to 17 public water supply systems for expenses related to the design and planning of treatment systems that protect drinking water against PFAS. In October, the Baker-Polito Administration established a protective standard of 20 parts-per-trillion (ppt) for PFAS in drinking water and required water systems to regularly test for the contaminants.
The grants were funded as part of $8.4 million made available as part of $28.4 million secured 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. More than $8.4 million of the new funding supports a statewide sampling program for public water supplies and private wells, including this grant program. Conducting statewide testing of drinking water for PFAS will provide the data to support the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s (MassDEP) strategy for treatment and mitigation of this emerging contaminant. In September 2020, the Administration announced the first round of grants, awarding $1.9 million to 10 public water supply systems.
For additional information on the PFAS awards and the grants program, turn here.
The new drinking water standard for PFAS is 20 ppt for the sum of six PFAS compounds, called “PFAS6.” The rule requires public water suppliers to test for PFAS6 and act when there is a detection above the limit. In using the sum of six PFAS compounds, these standards provide a higher degree of protection, particularly for sensitive subgroups including pregnant women, nursing mothers and infants. There are currently no federal PFAS standards for drinking water.
All community public water systems are required to test for PFAS6. Large public water supplies, those serving a population of 50,000 or more, were required to begin their initial PFAS6 tests as of January 1, 2021. Public water supplies serving populations between 10,000 and 50,000 will begin initial tests April 1, 2021, and those serving a population of less than 10,000 will begin testing October 1, 2021.