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Randolph Water Analysis: PFAS

  • The Randolph-Holbrook-Braintree Tri-Town reservoir exceeded the state PFAS limit of 20 ppt in summer 2021. This webpage is a response to the required letters about PFAS sent out to all residents of Randolph and Holbrook.

  • See Wikipedia background on PFAS -- in summary, high PFAS levels come from synthetic chemicals and cause cancers and other health problems. They are called "forever chemicals" because they accumulate in the body over time.

  • Randolph held a Water Forum over the summer, focusing on PFAS, and Jesse asked about how we can reduce PFAS entering our water supply in the first place -- let's call that pre-remediation. This webpage is also a follow-up to that discussion; but first some details of post-remediation (removing PFAS on the way out of the reservoir)
Post-remediation (PFAS removal after leaving the reserovoir)

  • PFAS can be filtered out of drinking water by "reverse osmosis." A PFAS filter could be installed at the water plant and all our water would be PFAS-filtered. Braintree did exactly that, at a cost of about $300,000. Braintree uses the same water supply as Randolph and Holbrook, but via a separate pipe system. For Randolph and Holbrook to install the same PFAS filter would cost well over $1 million.

  • The new water treatment plant will include a PFAS filter for all three towns. Construction is slated to begin next summer. That means the million dollars would be a temporary fix just for a couple of years until the new plant goes on line.

  • Holbrook will hold their own Water Forum on Dec. 7 to discuss whether to invest in a PFAS filter with Randolph (among other issues).

  • Both Holbrook and Randolph have PFAS-filtered water available for residents for free -- Holbrook's is at Stanney's on Union Street, and Randolph's is at the DPW behind the Ice Rink and the RICC (it opened a few weeks ago, with no ID or anything else required, after Jesse requested that).
Pre-remediation (PFAS avoidance before entering the reserovoir)

  • The Water Forums explained well the general sources of PFAS -- all sorts of chemical coatings and additives -- answering the question "How does PFAS get into water supplies?" But rather than answering the general case, we need answers to the specific question: "How does PFAS get into OUR water supply?"

  • There are specific sources of PFAS -- perhaps some industrial source, or some runoff from roads, or some contaminated site -- and those sources can be identified. Once identified, we can reduce the amount that gets into our reservoir, and if successful, we wouldn't have to worry about PFAS filtering at all.

  • The state DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) is planning to make source studies available. Jesse asked about getting a "ground survey", looking at topological maps for likely source areas, then touring those areas to test for PFAS. Jesse asked repeatedly over the past few months and got no clear response on the state investigation. So instead, Jesse asked an environmental group (Clean Water Action) -- they said it'd be better to await DEP. That will likely take many months, because the DEP needs to plan for the entire state.

  • In the meantime, we can perform some PFAS tests on our own -- at different locations around the Tri-Town reservoir, and at the Richardi Reservoir and other sources too. That would give the DEP a headstart (if we find some evidence), to use once they get their program started.

  • That's where we stand in December 2021. Your input welcome; we'll discuss at Town Council meeting of 12/6/21, and at the Holbrook Forum on 12/7/21.
Committee to Elect Jesse Gordon, 52 West St, Randolph MA 02368

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