BOSTON (WWLP) – A new state program will offer 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 $2-million 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).   

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 $2 million in operating funds has been provided. 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. 

 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.