Read the full article by Rich Eldred (

“The Barnstable Fire District Water Department will spend $20 million to build a treatment plant to remove per- and polyfluoroalkyls (PFAS) from drinking water.

Voters in the district overwhelmingly approved the plan after a detailed discussion Wednesday night at the Barnstable County offices during the annual meeting. The article was one of 18 on the warrant but it dominated the discussion as the $20 million burden will fall on roughly 2,000 ratepayers in the district. Barnstable is divided into four separate water districts.

Several Barnstable Fire District wells are off Mary Dunn Road behind the airport. They’ve become contaminated with PFAS, chemicals that are stain and fire resistant and used in fire suppressing foams as well as many other products. Wells #2 and #5 are adjacent to the Fire Academy and the airport where  fire fighting foams were frequently employed.

The estimated cost for the water treatment facility is $20 million.  Close to a year ago, it was $13 million. Inflation and the projected demand for the filtration materials has sent the cost sky rocketing. 

District officials said the annual operational cost for the plant will be $300,000 a year. The district is scheduled to get a zero percent interest loan from the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust PFAS mitigation program to cover the construction cost. It is expected the district will also receive 6.6% loan forgiveness or $1.32 million. 

Why PFAS treatment is important

‘(PFAS) have a long half life and bioaccumulate in the body,’ Water Superintendent Thomas Rooney said. ‘Massachusetts has initiated regulations for PFAs at 20 parts per trillion (in drinking water).’

One of the wells was sampling at 12 ppt and the other well is close to that. In May of 2020 the combined PFA concentration in wells #2 and #5 (which simultaneously pump water into the system) was 23.6 ppt. In June it dropped to 18.8 ppt. The levels fluctuate due to rain and season. Rooney said the more water that is pulled out of the wells the higher readings have been. If the levels exceed 20 ppt the wells would have to be shut down.”…