WESTFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - New developments on a story we've been following for several years now: contaminated drinking water in Westfield.
The city has spent nearly $15 million on testing and remediation of a dangerous substance called PFAS.
Now, the governor's office has announced their own multimillion dollar plan to eradicate PFAS statewide.
Last Friday, Gov. Baker announced he’s allocating more than $60 million for PFAS remediation throughout the state.
Westfield officials made the decision years ago to clean the potentially cancer-causing chemical out of their own water and on the city's dime.
Now, they are looking to be reimbursed by the state.
"That was my question exactly," Westfield Mayor Brian Sullivan tells us.
Westfield Mayor Brian Sullivan just got back from a meeting with the governor’s office, where he asked how his city can get reimbursed for the $15 million they've spent on PFAS remediation.
"I think those questions are still unanswered so that’s why I wanted to be there at the beginning of the process," says Mayor Sullivan.
Governor Charlie Baker's supplemental budget contains $55 million for water-related issues.
$35 million will go towards water infrastructure projects and $20 million is earmarked for loans to cities for PFAS remediation.
An additional $8.4 million will go towards water testing.
Sullivan says the governor's office needs to ensure those earmarks don’t prevent Westfield from getting state funds.
"I wanted to make sure that it’s not just going for testing and for engineering work, because we’ve already spent that money. Right away, our course of action was to clean the water that we have and we’re going to continue to do that," stated Mayor Sullivan.
"The good people of Westfield, they didn’t do this themselves. This is circumstances outside of their control," said State Representative John Velis.
Velis says the governor's supplemental was just introduced to legislators recently and that it could become moot if lawmakers don't pass it.
"The reps and the senators from the affected communities, we want that to be done in as expedient a way as possible," noted Velis.
"They all want to hear what we have to say and figure out what this money could be used for," says Mayor Sullivan.
Mayor Sullivan says state officials are interested in Westfield’s experience remediating PFAS at home.
Western Mass News asked about the progress of cleaning the North End’s aquifer, which was contaminated by foam used at Barnes Air Base.
"We’re ready to bring Wells Seven and Eight online, hopefully, by the end of the month. We keep saying the end of the month. We’ve had some mechanical issues having nothing to do with the contamination. We won’t stop working on that until we have a clean system," added Mayor Sullivan.
Sullivan says, until those two wells can be brought back into service, Westfield’s North End can continue to safely receive drinking water through Well Two for the time being.