Manugian Says Town Should Keep Wells Closed – for Now

April 25, 2023
The municipal wellfield off Shawsheen Road was closed in 2018 due to the detection of PFAS. The DPW is not ready to restore use or fully decommission the use as a town water supply. Staff Image/ Wayne Braverman

The short-term restoration of the municipal wellfield off Shawsheen Road is unlikely. But the wells shouldn’t be decommissioned because changing technologies may facilitate long-term recovery.

Bedford Public Works Director David Manugian delivered that assessment to the Select Board at Monday’s regular meeting, based on a consultant’s report.

The wells, which provided 10 to 15 percent of the town water supply, were closed in 2018 because of the detection of per-and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS), which can be harmful to health.

Manugian said the study looked for six variants of PFAS that have been identified by the Environmental Protection Agency. The levels mostly remain below the recommended safe maximum, he said.

“There’s a good chance the list will grow and the current standard will become more stringent,” Manugian continued.

The consultant offered three options. A filtration plant was ruled out because of cost, Manugian said. The cost of a treatment plant was compared to the additional expense of replacing town water with metropolitan supply, and even though the regional water is twice as expensive, the relatively small volume doesn’t come close to offsetting the cost of a facility. 

That led to the study’s third option: keep the wells closed for now, but hope for the future. 

“Technology is changing,” Manugian said. PFAS is “a worldwide issue, and there may be an opportunity in the future to bring them back online.”

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