Read the full article by Shane Rhodes (Sentinel & Enterprise)

“AYER — The Department of Public Works and Water Department have taken another step to address PFAS contamination in public drinking water.

After it opened the first such facility in Massachusetts, the town of Ayer recently opened its second PFAS water treatment plant to address contamination in water drawn from the wells near Spectacle Pond. Construction on the facility began late in 2020 before it concluded last June.

While the plant is not yet 100% operational, DPW Director Dan Van Schalkwyk said they continue to ensure that the 1.2 million gallons of water that flow through the facility daily are safe for use and consumption.

‘We aren’t quite fully up and running yet, a few more kinks to work out here and there,’ Van Schalkwyk said. ‘But we’ve been running the plant as much as we can to make sure the people of Ayer have the safe, clean water they need.’

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are human-made chemicals used in a wide range of products. Often dubbed ‘forever chemicals’ due to their inability to break down, PFAS can be found almost everywhere and can cause serious health issues.

The chemicals were first discovered in the Spectacle Pond wells in 2018. While the town was not required to test the water at the time (PFAS sampling was not required in public water supplies in Massachusetts until October 2020), it did so out of ‘an abundance of caution,’ according to Van Schalkwyk, as Ayer worked with the Department of Environmental Protection on the PFAS extension at the Grove Pond treatment plant.

‘We started with a moving target (at Grove Pond) and, after we found (PFAS) at (Spectacle Pond), the moving target kind of kept on moving,’ he said.

Spectacle Pond’s own PFAS treatment facility was later approved at town meeting in October 2019. Unlike the water from Grove Pond, however, where PFAS contamination was linked back to the Army base at Fort Devens, the source of the Spectacle Pond contamination was not immediately apparent.” …