The Sudbury Water District would like to make the public aware of our system’s status with respect to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly called PFAS. These man-made compounds originated in the 1940s and are just about everywhere. The compounds can be found in clothing, non-stick cookware, rugs, fire-fighting foams, cosmetics, ski wax, food packaging, as well as many other products. PFAS has even been detected in rainwater. It’s therefore not surprising that PFAS compounds are being detected in drinking water supplies, although usually at very, very low concentrations.
The District has been working with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to monitor our public water supply and make plans for any potential elevated concentrations of PFAS compounds at the four points of entry into our water distribution system.
We are pleased to have learned that our water supply remains below the MassDEP’s newly promulgated maximum concentration limit (MCL) for the sum of six PFAS compounds of 20 parts per trillion (nanograms per liter), although we have detected them, generally in the 10-15 parts per trillion range. For perspective:
One part per million (ppm) equals:
• 1 inch in 16 miles
One part per billion (ppb) equals:
• 1 inch in 16,000 miles
One part per trillion (ppt) equals:
• 1 inch in 16 million miles (600+ times around the earth)
The fact that we have detected PFAS compounds in our water and that the concentrations are relatively close to the state’s MCL has led us to take the following actions, both to be in compliance with MassDEP’s requirements and to be prepared for any higher concentrations in future samples:
- Maintained and continue to maintain close communications with MassDEP and the Sudbury Board of Health (and other town boards and groups) to keep everyone aware of our findings and plans.
- Hired a firm with experience and expertise in PFAS monitoring and treatment.
- Prepared a study that summarizes findings to date and prescribing a plan for building activated carbon treatment facilities at our two treatment plant sites, including phasing of early construction of long-lead items such as concrete pads and interconnecting piping.
- Applied for and received a MassDEP grant of $111,169 to help offset the cost of the design of PFAS treatment at the Raymond Road Water Treatment Facility, the design of which is already underway.
- Put financial plans in place for funding the construction of this new PFAS treatment facility. Those plans will require approval of transfers and bonding articles at the District’s Annual Meeting on May 18th.
- Evaluated measures for rapid deployment of alternative water supplies in the case of high PFAS concentrations from future sampling.
We will continue to update our website as new information is received to keep you apprised of the quality of water in terms of PFAS and all other elements and compounds that we monitor, as we receive new information it will be posted to our website. If you have questions or concerns regarding PFAS news please contact our Executive Director, Vincent Roy at (978) 443-6602.