LITTLETON — Just over a year after breaking ground, U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan joined members of the Littleton Select Board and Electric, Light and Water Department at the construction site of the town’s new PFAS water treatment facility on Whitcomb Avenue.
On Thursday, Trahan joined Select Board Chair Matthew Nordhaus, Town Administrator Anthony Ansaldi and LELWD General Manager Nick Lawler to highlight the $4.9 million delivered to the project via the American Rescue Plan Act and tour the mid-construction facility. Once operational, the treatment facility will remove PFAS and other contaminants from the town’s drinking water.
The construction costs of the new facility were financed through a state loan of more than $24 million. The $4.9 million in ARPA funds were provided by the act’s Clean Water Trust.
Trahan shared her excitement over the project and commended the work done by local municipalities to address PFAS issues.
“I’m happy to see (American Rescue Plan Act) money used here and in many towns in the area facing similar concerns,” Trahan said. “Federal ARPA funds went directly to communities, but it was good to see the state and even local governments hop right in and prioritize PFAS as well.”
PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are human-made chemicals used in a wide range of products that do not break down easily and are often dubbed “forever chemicals.” Since their creation early in the 20th century, they have come to be found almost anywhere — water, air, soil — and, in recent years, have been found to cause serious health issues at elevated levels.
“PFAS, I think, are just something that snuck up on everyone,” Trahan said.
In 2019, it was discovered that Littleton’s water supply — specifically water drawn from the Spectacle Pond well — had PFAS levels above the state limit. LELWD halted the well’s use for the town’s drinking water.
Later, the treatment facility was devised and, in June 2021, LELWD broke ground on the project. According to Lawler, construction is expected to wrap up next spring.
Once complete, raw water pumped into the facility will pass through separate iron and manganese filters. From there, the water will be pumped into a special PFAS filter, where it will be cleared of any built-up chemicals and pumped out to Littleton homes.
Trahan said the future treatment plant is a “model for communities across the nation” that face drinking water contamination from PFAS and other toxic chemicals. She also noted those chemicals can “affect anybody, Democrat or Republican” and that she was glad to see bipartisan support for ARPA, the PFAS Action Act of 2021, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and other PFAS-related initiatives.
Nordhaus, Lawler and others praised Trahan for her involvement in the project’s increased funding and thanked her for her continued support of local communities. George Sanders, a Littleton resident, said Trahan had “done a lot for (the Littleton community) compared to previous representatives.”
“I want to thank Congresswoman Trahan for her continued efforts to support initiatives that allow us to provide clean and reliable water to our community,” Lawler said in a statement after the event. “The Littleton Whitcomb Ave project is a great example of how local, state, and federal partnerships can benefit the communities that we serve.”
“Congresswoman Trahan, and her staff, have been a steadfast source of support and information,” Nordhaus said in a statement. “Her assistance is more invaluable than ever these days, as supply chain issues and cost increases challenge our ability to meet the needs of our residents.”