By Justin Roshak, Contributing Writer
HUDSON – The Select Board approved just under $1.7 million in funds for upgrades and replacements to the Department of Public Works’ (DPW) water treatment facility and vehicle fleet at its July 26 meeting.
Water treatment upgrades address PFAS mitigation
DPW plans to spend $250,000 to repair and replace water treatment equipment. A filter system intended to remove per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly abbreviated as PFAS, will be replaced. Installation of the new components is currently ongoing, according to Executive Assistant Thomas Gregory.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), PFAS is a family of chemicals that have been used in a number of products, such as firefighting foam, food packaging and carpets.
Hudson’s DPW started measuring levels of PFAS in 2016 and observed levels fluctuating from 22.2 parts per trillion (ppt) to 63.5 ppt, before hitting 76.4 ppt in May 2019.
Prior to 2019, state guidelines had mirrored federal benchmarks identifying 70 ppt as the upper limit for safe drinking water.
Just as Hudson’s readings started to climb, though, the DEP announced it was exploring a new drinking water standard to be set at 20 ppt.
Unlike waterborne illnesses, PFAS chemicals cannot be destroyed by boiling and must be filtered out before they reach taps.
So, as early as April, 2019, Hudson officials advised pregnant women, nursing mothers, infants and anyone else concerned about PFAS exposure to use filters or bottled water for drinking and food preparation.
Mitigation measures for PFAS contamination were put in place in March of last year. The water treatment replacement will be financed by a ten-year bond that was approved by voters at last year’s June 22 Town Meeting.
Hudson is also separately receiving $1.6 million to fund ongoing maintenance and mitigation efforts as part of a settlement it reached, last year, with three companies found to have caused the PFAS contamination.
DPW, fire department to buy new vehicles
Beyond its water system, the DPW will begin to replace a substantial portion of its fleet of vehicles and equipment.
Just over $1.1 million will be spent on heavy vehicles including a service vehicle, multi-hop sidewalk tractor, a street sweeper, a John Deere loader, a wood-chipper, a backhoe and a sander/plow. These heavy vehicles and equipment are expected to last between ten and fifteen years.
A further $300,631 will be spent on lighter vehicles and equipment including a fire command vehicle, three pickup trucks of various sizes, sport utility vehicle and a van. Their useful life is expected to fall between five and ten years, according to Hudson Budget Committee reports.