BRIDGEWATER — Town Manager Michael Dutton, Department of Public Works Director Azu Etoniru and Water & Sewer Superintendent Jonas Kazlauskas wish to provide the community with an update regarding the elevated levels of PFAS found in a water sample in September 2021.
In November 2021, the Town of Bridgewater notified residents of elevated levels of PFAS in the drinking water at the location where Wells #8 and #9 combine at 1425 High St. Samples collected during routine monitoring in September detected PFAS levels at 20.65 parts per trillion, which is slightly above Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) standards. Other samples collected during Quarter 3 of 2021 — July and August — were under the maximum contaminant level (MCL) at 16.57 and 19.36 parts per trillion respectively.
The MassDEP adopted a strict drinking water standard in October 2020, limiting the quantities of six specific PFAS chemicals to no more than 20 parts per trillion. That limit is well below the limit set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency which is 70 parts per trillion.
Though a sample from Bridgewater Wells #8 and #9 was above the MCL, the average for Quarter 3 was 19 parts per trillion. According to MassDEP, generally, a sampling location exceeds the MCL and results in a violation if the average of three months of PFAS concentrations is greater than 20 parts per trillion within the same quarter. Even if a violation has not occurred, towns are required to provide educational materials if at least one sample detects PFAS levels above 20 parts per trillion.
Since September’s sample results, the town has contracted DPC Engineering of Longmeadow to explore the reduction of PFAS in the affected area. The town will work with DPC to collect and evaluate past data, treatment and reduction plans and PFAS results.
The town expects to receive PFAS results for December 2021 before the end of this month, which will establish the quarterly average for parts per trillion for Quarter 4.
“Since September, we have been working to take the appropriate actions to explore the issue and possible options to mitigate the issue, and will continue to work with DPC as we await the results from our Quarter 4 sampling,” Superintendent Kazlauskas said. “We will keep the community informed of the results and our progress, and encourage residents to reach out to the Water Department should they have any questions or concerns.”
Wells #8 and #9 have remained operational and are providing water to meet water demand while reduction options are explored and monitoring continues. Residents should note that, according to MassDEP, most residents are able to continue to consume the water because the MCL is applicable to a lifetime of consuming the water and therefore shorter duration exposures present less risk.
Additional information about PFAS and steps residents in sensitive groups, including those pregnant or nursing, infants and people with compromised immune systems can take to avoid consumption of affected water can be found in the town’s notification and public education materials issued in November.
The town will continue working alongside MassDEP to ensure the town’s water system meets all standards. Additional updates can be found on the Bridgewater Water Department page as they become available.