Natick will hold a public forum to share the latest information on elevated levels of Per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS), also known as “forever chemicals,” that were discovered in the town’s drinking water and Natick’s plans to remove them.
The meeting will be held online (Meeting ID: 965 1685 9083 and Passcode: 670128) on Wednesday, May 26, from 7-8pm. Town staff and subject matter experts will present on the topic and field clarifying questions from the public. The event will be recorded.
DPW Director Jeremy Marsette has been on the Natick meeting circuit (including the April 21 Select Board meeting, about 2.5 hours in) explaining the ins and outs of PFAS, levels of which earlier this year were found to exceed strict new state standards issued last fall. The elevated levels triggered a Notice of Noncompliance from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection on April 9 (Natick and Wayland were the first two communities to get these(, and Natick followed suit with a public notification mailing to water customers on May 1.
Natick has a history of testing its 10 source water wells for PFAS since 2013, Marsette says, and while the chemical wasn’t previously detected, improved technology allows for more effective testing. Natick got out in front of other communities in testing for PFAS as it worked to get a new well online in December, and has been testing monthly since January, with funding from the state helping to pay for some of that.
Natick and other Massachusetts communities have begun testing their water for a combination of 6 PFAS components from chemicals used since the mid-20th century to make stain-resistant, water-resistant, and non-stick products but that are no longer made in the United States due to health concerns—these chemicals don’t easy break down and stick around in the environment and your body. That’s not good for you or the earth even in small amounts. The state’s threshold is 20 nanograms per liter (aka, parts per trillion), which is well below federal guidance of 70 parts per trillion (there is no federal standard).
Natick Town Meeting this spring approved $3M to fund Granulated Activated Carbon (GAC) filters to remove PFAS6 from one of Natick’s drinking water system entry points. The system is slated to be operational by year-end.
In the meantime, Natick has taken other steps to reduce PFAS in the town’s drinking water, both by cutting off supply from wells with the highest levels, and blending water from higher and lower level wells.
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