Westfield’s drinking water may contain harmful chemicals

MassDEP is now testing the water supply in Westfield

WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) – As part of the ongoing collaboration between the City of Westfield, Barnes Air National Guard Base, and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), MassDEP will be initiating sampling of private wells in the vicinity of the potential groundwater impacts from Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs).

The City and MassDEP have identified approximately 150 private wells within a 1-mile radius of the City’s Public Water Supply Wells numbers 1, 2, 7 and 8. MassDEP is implementing a phased approach to determine the extent of impacts and concentration levels of PFCs in the area.

Approximately 25 representative wells will be sampled in the first phase of the initiative to help determine the extent of the impacts. These wells are distributed spatially within the area in all directions, but are primarily in the direction of groundwater flow. Results from this first phase will determine if further testing will be required.

Because representative wells were chosen to determine the extent of impacts, not every well within a given area will be sampled during this first phase. If impacts are found from those representative wells, however, the second phase of testing will include other wells in the vicinity of the impacted ones. Depending of the results, the second phase may or may not expand beyond the 1-mile radius.

If concentrations are detected that may pose health risks, MassDEP is prepared to provide bottled water to residents and install water treatment systems if necessary.

MassDEP will be seeking signed access agreements from private well owners and will be distributing these imminently. These are standard agreements MassDEP obtains before sampling can be conducted.

Westfield’s Mayor Brian Sullivan said, “I want to thank DEP for its coordinated actions with the City of Westfield to identify potentially impacted wells and move forward with testing. Together, the City of Westfield, DEP and Barnes Air National Guard will continue to take all necessary steps to protect the citizens and provide accurate information concerning any impacts that may be confirmed by this and other ongoing monitoring. I am committed to finding a resolution that protects our City. The impacted City wells remain off line and I encourage all well owners contacted by DEP to provide complete cooperation throughout the testing period.”

A released statement from the Barnes Air National guard states, “The 104 Fighter Wing is committed to work with the Headquarters Air National Guard, MassDEP, and the City of Westfield through an open and transparent process to resolve this issue as soon as possible. The Air National Guard is using a comprehensive approach – identify, respond, prevent – to assess the potential for PFC contamination of drinking water on and off installations. “Nothing is more important to the 104th Fighter Wing than taking care of the community where we live and work,” said Barnes Air National Guard Base Commander Colonel James Suhr.”

The MassDEP said, “If you receive an access agreement from MassDEP, it is very important to sign and return that to us as soon as possible so that we may initiate the testing of your well,” said Michael Gorski, Director of MassDEP’s Western Regional Office in Springfield. “We will be in communication with you on the process and will discuss with you the results of the testing and what the appropriate next steps will be.”

For more information on the City’s efforts on PFCs, see http://www.cityofwestfield.org/672/PFCs-Information-Updates

Click Here for a Fact Sheet regarding PFAs prepared by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.