Citizens of Westfield petition to abolish water bond

(Western Mass News photo)

Westfield continues to struggle with its water supply as the city is relying on just one well and a reservoir.

There are four wells in question on the North side of Westfield.

Two of them have been shut off for the past couple of years because of high contaminant levels. Now, the city shut off a third one because of new federal standards.

The city of Westfield has shut off well 2 because its levels contaminants, categorized as PFAs. The Department of Environmental Protection will be changing their advisory and what levels will be acceptable and the city wanted to be pro-active.

Westfield Ward 3 City Councilor, Andrew Surprise told Western Mass News this doesn't reflect city transparency. "We had to ask at the last finance committee meeting to find out about that. That information wasn't volunteered to us," said Surprise. The EPA issued a lifetime health advisory level for PFOA and PFOS of 70 parts per trillion in 2016. That superseded the 2009 health advisories. While the EPA recently announced an effort to address health advisories for PFAs, they have not updated their advisory levels since 2016.

But, Westfield Mayor Brian Sullivan told Western Mass News in a phone call Monday that Westfield's well 2 would exceed a the new DEP advisory, which is why the city took it offline two weeks ago to be pro-active.

A spokesperson for the water department did not respond to numerous requests for comment on Monday. "The main thing is getting clean water to the residents," said Surprise. This all started back in the Spring of 2016 when the water department sent letters to residents telling them they'd be shutting off wells 7 and 8 because of high levels of contaminants called PFOA and PFOS exceeded a new E.P.A. advisory level at that time.

PFOA and PFOS are found in a wide number of consumer products, and can last in the environment for longer than humans are here on earth.

Most recently, in March, the city of Westfield filed a lawsuit against three manufacturers, tracing the water contamination back to firefighting foam used at Barnes Air National Guard Base back in the 1980s. "The entire election season people kept telling us the water is safe, the water is safe, the water is safe. Well now, the EPA level has somehow changed and we're not sure what it's changed to but we are told well 2 is taken offline because it exceeds it?" said Westfield resident Kristen Mello.

The health implications are still unknown, though some studies show it could lead to a multitude of illnesses such as high blood pressure or some cancers.

Because of this, Kristen Mello and many other residents have been pressuring city officials to provide voluntary blood testing to residents.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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