PFAS Monitoring and Response in Bedford

As part of ongoing efforts to improve our drinking water system, we wanted to provide an update on PFAS monitoring, and town-wide response.

What is PFAS? PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are a large, complex group of manufactured chemicals that are widely used to make various types of common, every day, household products.

Between 2013 and 2015 in Massachusetts, 171 public water systems, including Bedford, were required to test for six PFAS chemicals as part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s third round of the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR3). This testing was to determine the extent of PFAS compounds, and the need to set minimum standards to address public health issues.

In 2019, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) proposed draft amendments to the state’s hazardous waste cleanup regulations (the Massachusetts Contingency Plan or “MCP”) that include groundwater and soil standards for the six most prevalent PFAS compounds. As newly proposed State regulations and guidelines are being finalized, MassDEP sent notification to public water suppliers recommending re-testing for PFAS compounds.

Following MassDEP notification to public water suppliers on newly proposed regulations and guidelines, the Bedford Department of Public Works Water Division proactively retested its two wells, and found PFAS levels to be below the recommended level set by the Office of Research and Standards for drinking water (ORSG), but above the proposed Massachusetts Contingency Plan (MCP) groundwater cleanup level.

Although levels detected in our well system do not pose any public health concerns, we chose to take action proactively and turn off our two impacted wells. The Town is now using Massachusetts Water Resource Authority (MWRA) as its sole source of drinking water. (Historically, MWRA has provided 85% of the Town’s drinking water, with only 15% sourced from well water.) MWRA’s level of PFAS is below all state and federal limits and advisories.

Updated information about evolving State guidelines will be provided as it becomes available. For more information on PFAS, and for a fact sheet, please click on the links below. If residents have additional questions, please reach out to the Department of Public Works, David Manugian, Director 781-275-7605.