• Devens meeting focuses on water quality after PFAS cleanup

    By: Litsa Pappas

    Updated:

    DEVENS, Mass. - People living in the Ayer-Devens area are concerned their drinking water may be toxic.

    The state just proposed changing its standards for drinking water to make sure fewer harmful chemicals are present in public water systems.

    The concern is over chemicals known as PFAS, they already exist in so many products we use every day like hairspray. 

    But people living in Devens want to make sure it’s not in their drinking water.

    "We're drinking water that potentially is toxic," said Tom Kinch, a resident of Devens. "That’s not comfortable in any way shape or form not only for me but for the entire community."

    Dozens of residents in Devens came together to learn just how dangerous their drinking water could be.

    PREVIOUS: Cleanup of PFAS chemicals in drinking water underway in wells near Fort Devens

    State and local leaders presented changes they're proposing to make sure the public water is safe to drink after detecting some potentially harmful chemicals in nearby wells.

    "Do I get checked out by my doctor, or do I continue drinking the water?" asked Shane Chase, a resident of the area. "And is it okay to drink, or do I continue to drink bottled water for the rest of my life?"

    The Massachusetts Department Of Environmental Protection is proposing to change its standards for public drinking water to eliminate more compounds known as 'PFAS.'

    Right now, the standard is allowing 70 parts per trillion of the compound in drinking water. But the state believes 20 parts per trillion would be a safer level for people to consume.

    "Where does someone come up with that number is what I want to know," Chase said.

    The state already shut down one of the wells in Devens after detecting dangerously high levels of PFAS.

    And now they're planning to build a water treatment system this year to make sure all public water is safe in this area.

    "It doesn't answer as to what's happened to people who have consumed it for the last 16 years," Kinch said. "But at least it says in the short term we’ve got access to water, which we know is not contaminated."

    In the short term, towns like Devens are offering bottled water to all residents as the state works to clean the water.

    Related: Firefighting foam linked to water contamination across Massachusetts

    There was another water meeting in Ayer on Tuesday night, where people have the same concerns, since these towns use similar water sources.

    Next Up: