- Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Announces New $2 Million Funding Opportunity for Public Water Systems to Assist PFAS Response
Edmund Coletta, MassDEP – Director of Public Affairs
BOSTON — The Baker-Polito Administration today announced the availability of $2 million in new grant funding to help public water systems address elevated levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in their drinking water. The new Interim PFAS6 Response Grant Program, administered by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), will provide funding to help offset the cost of initial responses implemented by water suppliers when “PFAS6” (the sum of six per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) exceeds the state standard of 20 parts-per-trillion (ppt).
“PFAS contamination poses a significant risk to public health, so it is imperative that public water suppliers address elevated PFAS levels in a timely manner,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “By offering funding through this new grant program, the Baker-Polito Administration is building on its commitment to support our public water systems and ensure they are able to provide safe drinking water as they work to develop a long-term solution to PFAS contamination issues.
“Under our new state standards for PFAS, public water systems are testing for these contaminants and when they are found, the Commonwealth is working closely with them to quickly assess the threat and address it,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “I urge our public water systems to apply for these funds, which can cover costs for critical short-term measures in the event of PFAS6 contamination, including bottled water, filtration systems, or alternative water-source connections.”
MassDEP anticipates offering three rounds of funding through the Interim PFAS6 Response Grant Program. Applications for the first round are due July 8, 2021. Public water supply systems can apply for funds to purchase and distribute bottled water, install water vending machines, purchase water and/or establish interconnections to alternative water sources, or take any other immediate action to provide safe drinking water to PFAS6-impacted water users. To assist communities that have already expended funds to address elevated levels of PFAS, reimbursement will be available for eligible costs that have already expended.
To support this program, the Baker-Polito Administration has allocated $2 million in operating funds. 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.
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, 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.
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 began initial tests April 1, 2021, and those serving a population of less than 10,000 will begin testing October 1, 2021.
For additional information on the Interim PFAS6 Response Grant Program, see the full Grant Opportunity here.
MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources. For more information regarding the MassDEP and its mission, please visit the agency’s webpage.