On November 7, 2020, Mansfield, Massachusetts voters approved spending $13.9 million for a new water project. The project is intended to address the town’s excess polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”) levels in public wells. Town Manager Kevin Dumas wants to start removing PFAS from Mansfield’s public water system soon to provide safe drinking water for the town by the summer of 2021.
Mansfield’s Walsh and Cate Springs wells tested in excess of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (“MassDEP”) recommended 20 parts per trillion (“ppt”) level for PFAS. The Cate Springs well had 22.4 ppt of PFAS on April 14, 2020 and the Walsh Well had 22.9 ppt on August 6, 2020. After finding excess PFAS, the town stopped use of both wells, resulting in 1.2 million gallons lost each day. If the water project is ultimately approved, the Cate Springs well work will be done by June of 2021. The project will include a Cate Springs Well PFAS treatment system that will cost $4.18 million; a Walsh Well PFAS treatment system that will cost $4 million; upgrades to the Walsh Well to increase capacity for $2.5 million; and additional improvements, including a newer system for pumping, for the Prescott Wells for $2.9 million.
The Town of Mansfield is one of many municipalities across Massachusetts to take steps towards PFAS cleanup. With the MassDEP calling PFAS one of its top concerns and publishing its drinking water standard on October 2, 2020, PFAS is a high priority issue, and towns and cities are acting accordingly. The MassDEP 20 ppt level is more stringent than the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) 70 ppt advisory level for perfluorooctanoic acid (“PFOA”) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (“PFOS”). The federal EPA level is unenforceable, but it serves as a baseline for states in the development of their own enforceable drinking water standards, with many states, including Massachusetts, setting more stringent standards for state public waterways.
Municipalities and water departments are in the hot seat for immediate PFAS cleanup to ensure that PFAS is removed from contaminated public wells and that safe drinking water is returned to the public. There is still much debate on the level of PFAS required to cause disease, but legislators are experiencing massive pressure from the public to enact regulations to curb the suspected impacts of these chemicals on human health. With ever changing regulations and new bills proposed in state and federal legislatures on a regular basis, municipalities must stay up to date on the changing regulatory requirements in this sphere.
CMBG3 Law is following judicial, legislative, administrative, and scientific developments relating to PFAS. More information about the services we can provide, including risk assessments, to ensure your business is ready for any intersection with these substances can be found on our PFAS Litigation page.
Our attorneys have been at the forefront of PFAS issues, including giving presentations as to the future waves of litigation stemming from PFAS issues. For more information, please contact any of our PFAS – Toxic Torts Team: Jessica Deyoe, Suzanne Englot, Alexandra Fraher, or John Gardella.