Water restrictions a possibility as Middleboro plans to replace East Grove St. treatment plant to address PFAS chemicals

Feb 10, 2024

MIDDLEBORO — A water treatment plant on East Grove Street in Middleboro will need to be rebuilt to install PFAS filtration systems, according to a presentation given at a Thursday Feb. 8 Middleboro Select Board meeting.

Water from the East Grove Street well currently has high concentrations of PFAS chemicals, which prompted letters to be sent to Middleboro residents. PFAS, or perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are man-made chemicals that have been used in the manufacturing of certain fire-fighting foams, moisture and stain-resistant products and other industrial processes.

Although the East Grove Street well is currently “online,” it only contributed 0.13% of the total amount of water that Middleboro produced from 13 different wells in January of 2024, explained Middleboro Water Superintendent Mike Bumpus. 

According to Bumpus, he didn’t shut down the East Grove Street well because the water could be used in an emergency situation, such as a fire. 

“I felt it was critical to leave that online. If there’s a large fire, I can turn it on and we can produce a lot of water in an instant,” said Bumpus.

Bumpus said that Middleboro residents might be faced with water restrictions in the summer months if the well continued to be unutilized. However, Bumpus added that water restrictions could also be imposed by the state of Massachusetts if the state determined that there was a drought.

It is “highly likely [that] there will be a nonessential outdoor water ban if East Grove pumping station goes off-line,” Bumpus said.

The plans to address the presence of PFAS chemicals at the well were discussed at the Feb. 8 Middleboro Select Board meeting.

Leah Stanton, a Vice President and Discipline Leader from the engineering firm Weston & Sampson presented a presentation outlining the current plans for the replacement of the East Grove Street treatment facility. 

Stanton said that in order to filter PFAS chemicals from the water pumped from the East Grove Street well, the treatment station needs to be replaced to add PFAS filtration systems. 

“The building [at the East Grove Street site] was too small for us to [add PFAS filtration to the site],” she explained.

Bumpus said that the site “was built in 1885.”

It is not yet clear what the exact cost of the project will be, but Stanton said that “the numbers started at $20 million.”

Middleboro Town Manager Jay McGrail said that “the idea is to get this [project] out to bid in a year from now” although he said he didn’t have an “exact construction timeline” at this time.