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Board of Health roundup: Health Department clarifies communication about YMCA potable water quality

by | Jul 27, 2023 | Business, Featured: News, News

Health Department Director Shaun McAuliffe at Monday night’s Board of Health meeting addressed resident concerns about water quality at the YMCA following last month’s Board of Health meeting that noted the identification of PFAS in a secondary well.

“The YMCA received several inquiries from the parents of campers questioning the quality of the potable and swimming water at the Outdoor Center,” he explained. “The YMCA, the Hopkinton Health Department and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection want to assure everyone that the potable water at the YMCA Outdoor Center meets all current drinking water standards.”

The potable water used by the YMCA is drawn from the primary well, McAuliffe added, and it meets safety standards.

Said McAuliffe: “PFAS 6 compounds had been detected in a well located closest to the lake. That well no longer serves the facility.”

The Hopkinton Independent previously reported that PFAS was detected in this secondary well.

PFAS, or perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a group of several thousand chemicals developed as coatings to protect consumer goods from stains, water and corrosion. They have been produced in the United States since the 1950s. Nonstick cookware, carpets, outdoor gear and food packaging are among items that contain the chemicals. They also are an ingredient in firefighting foams.

The concern over PFAS in the water has become heightened over the past two years ever since PFAS was discovered in the town’s Well 6. In May, Town Manager Norman Khumalo held a public input meeting to gather opinions on whether the town should spend  $1,187,000 of American Rescue Plan Act grant funds on a $1.7 million water filtration system to remove PFAS from the municipal water supply.  It would supplement $600,000 previously appropriated by Town Meeting last year to address the rising concern over elevated PFAS levels over the past two years. Two filtration vessels at Well 6 on Fruit Street to bring PFAS levels below current detection levels and into current state and federal draft compliance levels were proposed.

Online health survey will end Aug. 4

McAuliffe also announced that an online survey currently being conducted by a Massachusetts Department of Public Health intern will conclude next Friday, Aug. 4.

Megan Donnelly, an MPH candidate at Boston University, is gathering data on the health impacts of long COVID in Hopkinton. She is researching the wide range of symptoms that the illness can cause and how those symptoms relate to immune system dysfunction and dysregulation.

McAuliffe urged all residents to participate. Once the survey is completed, Donnelly will compile the information into a report for the MDPH. This information will also be presented to the Board of Health.

Participation in the survey is anonymous, and responses will be confidential. The survey has a maximum of 36 questions and should take five minutes or less to complete.

To complete the survey, use this link: survey.fynzo.com/u/7j2pbf.

Testing revealed presence of E. coli at Deerfield Estates

Routine testing of a well at Deerfield Estates found E. coli in water samples collected on June 28 and July 13, and McAuliffe stressed that the water has been treated.

When E. coli was detected, a boil water order was issued for the property.

“The system operator began emergency chlorination and the samples collected on July 14 and July 17 were absent total coliform,” he said. “Based on the information provided to the MDEP, the boil water order was lifted.”

McAuliffe explained that all public water supply wells in the commonwealth are required to be tested on a regular basis. The frequency depends on data from past testing results.

“Based on the information provided to the MDEP, the boil water order was lifted,” he added.

Director to discuss potential new regulation on notice of violation requirement

The board recommended that the director consult with the Cambridge Health Department to discuss its rationale for a 30-day notice of violations requirement. Once the results of the discussion are reviewed with the board, a draft regulation will be presented to town stakeholders for comment. Following comment, a public hearing will be scheduled.

At the meeting, board members also questioned whether Hopkinton’s notification period could be shortened to a one- to two-week period. McAuliff said he was to meet with the Cambridge Health Department to discuss the matter on Thursday.

Biosafety regulation language approved

The biosafety regulation discussed at the last meeting was approved. It was requested by the Hopkinton Chamber of Commerce to regulate biotech laboratories as that industry expands in town.


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