The new water filtration system to address PFAS at Chestnut Street Water Filtration Plant in Hudson. (Photo by Eric Ryder)

On Jan. 31, the Board of Trustees for the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust approved an interest-free loan pilot program for projects that remediate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in public water supplies.

The loans, for the 2020 calendar year, are intended to help communities that have identified PFAS in their water to expedite and complete remediation projects.

Requests for PFAS mitigation project funding must be submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection for emergency financing. Requests are subject to review and approval by the MassDEP and the Clean Water Trust. Communities must apply for funding by the end of December 2020 to be eligible for this pilot.

The program is being funded through Trust program funds along with funding from the Fiscal Year 2019 Supplemental Closeout Budget. The budget provided $10.65 million for the Trust to support drinking water suppliers with PFAS mitigation, and $9.05 million for the Trust to increase its overall project funding capacity.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are a family of chemicals widely used since the 1950s to manufacture common consumer products and in firefighting. They have been linked to a variety of health risks.

The MassDEP currently requires public water suppliers to test all new sources of drinking water for PFAS, including replacement sources and satellite wells, and report all results. This adds to the targeted sampling of systems near potential or known sources of PFAS done by the MassDEP.

Since its establishment in 1989, the Clean Water Trust has loaned nearly $7.6 billion to improve and maintain the quality of water in the Commonwealth.