Program allows communities to provide treatment for drinking water at lower cost to help protect public health
Deputy Communications Director
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On January 31, 2020 the Board of Trustees for the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust (the Trust) approved a 0% interest rate loan pilot program for projects that remediate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in public water supplies for the 2020 calendar year. These no interest loans will help communities that have identified PFAS in their water to expedite and complete the remediation projects.
Requests for PFAS mitigation project funding are to be submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) for emergency financing. Requests are subject to review and approval by MassDEP and the Trust. Communities must apply for funding by the end of December 2020 to be eligible for this pilot of no interest loans.
This pilot program is being funded through Trust program funds along with funding from the Fiscal Year 2019 Supplemental Closeout Budget. The budget provided $10.65 million for the Trust to support drinking water suppliers with PFAS mitigation, and $9.05 million for the Trust to increase its overall project funding capacity.
"Our administration is dedicated to taking action to protect the public on the issue of PFAS in drinking water, as we continue to follow the science closely," said Governor Charlie Baker. "Building on our efforts to assist public water suppliers in identifying PFAS contamination, we are helping fund substantive action with the Clean Water Trust to ensure communities can address any elevated PFAS levels in their water."
"As we address the issue of PFAS contamination, communities across the Commonwealth need assistance to ensure the safety of their drinking water," said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. "We are proud to partner with the Clean Water Trust to ensure public water suppliers have the resources to both detect and remediate PFAS contamination."
"As Chair of the Clean Water Trust, I am pleased to work with the Baker-Polito Administration and MassDEP to provide communities with a new low cost financing option to address the problem of PFAS contamination," said State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, "We want people to know that there are resources available to ensure healthy drinking water for residents throughout Massachusetts."
"The availability of additional funding for PFAS remediation through the State Revolving Fund Loan Program will help the Commonwealth's public water suppliers confront this important public health issue and provide residents clean, healthy drinking water," said MassDEP Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Martin Suuberg. "The Baker-Polito Administration is committed to addressing PFAS and continuing to work with communities throughout the Commonwealth to test and remediate drinking water systems."
"The Baker-Polito Administration is pleased to help provide resources to local cities and towns to help address PFAs contamination and ensure local residents have access to clean drinking water," said Administration and Finance Secretary Michael J. Heffernan. "Municipalities play a critical role in providing safe water resources for people throughout the Commonwealth and this zero-interest loan pilot program demonstrates the Commonwealth's commitment to municipalities as they work to remediate this public health threat."
Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances or PFAS are a family of chemicals widely used since the 1950s to manufacture common consumer products and in firefighting. They have been linked to a variety of health risks, particularly in women who are pregnant or nursing, and in infants. PFAS in drinking water is an important emerging issue nationwide, as well as here in Massachusetts. For more information on PFAS in Massachusetts visit here.
In December, the Baker-Polito Administration filed draft regulations, which would establish enforceable PFAS standards for public drinking water systems based on the most up-to-date scientific data, and finalized standards for both soil and groundwater for cleanup of PFAS from contaminated sites. There are currently no federal PFAS standards for either cleanups or for drinking water.
MassDEP currently requires public water suppliers to test all new sources of drinking water for PFAS, including replacement sources and satellite wells and report all results. This adds to the targeted sampling of systems near potential or known sources of PFAS done by MassDEP that has helped to identify impacted systems.
In an effort to protect the environment and the public health from PFAS, MassDEP has also initiated a "Legacy Firefighting Foam Take-Back Program." MassDEP, in conjunction with the Department of Fire Services, has identified stockpiles of old PFAS-containing firefighting foam and arranged for the collection and safe disposal of the foam at no cost to local fire departments. To date, 149,016 pounds of legacy foam has been collected.
About the Clean Water Trust
Since its establishment in 1989, the Clean Water Trust has loaned nearly $7.6 billion to improve and maintain the quality of water in the Commonwealth. An estimated 97 percent of Massachusetts' residents have benefited from the financial assistance of the Trust.