2 wells in Wayland see high levels of PFAS in tap water

WAYLAND, Mass. — Wayland is the latest town to discover high levels of PFAS in tap water. Town administrator Louise Miller said two of their four wells detected more than 20 parts per trillion of this dangerous chemical, which surpasses the state’s new safety standard.

“The water hasn’t changed, but the standard has changed,” Miller said. “So we’re shutting down one of the wells at one particular well field, we’ll treat the second well, then we’ll blend the water and then we’ll blend all of that with the other well fields.”

Miller said they’ve been providing bottled water and credits for water bills to residents in the more sensitive populations. She said the town is spending more than $20,000 a week, and that’s only for a short-term fix.

“Regulations changed, and now we’re being mandated basically to change how we’re treating the water, and other than raising water rates, there’s no way for us to come up with what is a lot of money, we’re talking in millions of dollars,” Miller said.

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Town leaders like Miller are pushing state leaders to provide more funding to filter out this harmful chemical since this extra cost will likely trickle down to the taxpayer.

Dr. Kyla Bennett is the director of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic PEER, or Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. She said PFAS is not just a problem in tap water.

“It’s in everything, it’s in, you know, your popcorn bags, your fast-food packaging, it’s in ski wax and guitar strings and makeup and rain gear and carpets,” Bennett said. “It’s almost impossible to destroy.”

Right now, Bennett said Massachusetts is only testing for six out of more than 9,000 variants of PFAS, so she said no matter where you live, you should filter your tap water before drinking it.

“I suspect that, when all is said and done, at least 50% of the towns in Massachusetts will find PFAS contamination in their water,” Bennett said.

As for the contamination problem in Wayland, Miller said they’re also looking into setting up tap stations with filtered water for residents to use until the wells have reached a safe level.