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LETTERS

Cambridge water issues highlight urban, rural inequities

Cambridge switched to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority system following the detection in Fresh Pond in August of six PFAS chemicals above the state limits for drinking water. The city has since returned to using its municipal water supply.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Re “Cambridge returns to using municipal water supply early” (Metro, Nov. 20): I was pleased to read that Cambridge returned to using its municipal water supply after switching to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority system following the detection three months ago of six PFAS chemicals above the state limits for drinking water. I relied on Cambridge water during my graduate school days and, for most of my life, relied on MWRA water piped from Western Massachusetts to Boston and surrounding suburbs, so I recognize the importance of these critical public water systems.

Yet I cannot help but think about the inequities that exist in drinking water protections and resources across the state. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s Private Wells PFAS Sampling Program found that about 5 percent of private wells tested across 85 towns had six PFAS chemicals above the same state limits Cambridge and other public water systems have to meet.

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The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts’ grant-funded Private Well Program to Protect Public Health, led by the nonprofit RCAP Solutions, has found that on average about 30 percent of private wells tested in 12 towns across the state had contaminants exceeding state drinking water standards. In one town, that figure was 55 percent.

In contrast to the city of Cambridge, these private well owners cannot switch to another water supply, and there has been no systemic approach to supporting these homeowners in understanding and identifying options for remediation, which can cost thousands of dollars.

We must do more to close the drinking water gap and ensure that all Massachusetts residents have safe drinking water regardless of where they live.

Amie Shei

President and CEO

The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts

Worcester