Velis amendment allows for reimbursement for PFAS expenses

State Rep. John C. Velis. (file photo)

BOSTON – An amendment made by state Rep. John C. Velis Oct. 16 on the House floor will potentially allow the city to seek reimbursement from the state for PFAS-related expenses.
The $723 million total supplementary budget passed almost unanimously.
Velis moved to amend the bill in section 2A, in item 2250-2002, in line 109, by inserting after the word “systems” the words “and nothing in this section shall preclude PFAS impacted communities from seeking reimbursement for costs and expenses already incurred for testing potentially contaminated water supplies, and treatment and design of affected drinking water systems related to PFAS contamination.”
Velis said the funding available under this section is for things that Westfield has already done, such as testing and treatment.
“I look at that and I have a problem with that for obvious reasons,” he said. “The state now is making funds available to do things that were not available before, so resultantly the city of Westfield and the Westfield taxpayers had to pay for those things. That’s not acceptable to me. So, I filed an amendment to the supplemental budget asking for PFAS impacted communities who have already incurred these expenses themselves to be able to seek reimbursement for monies they have already spent.”
Velis said the process is to be determined but will likely include a request from the city for reimbursement.
Mayor Brian P. Sullivan said he was grateful for Velis’ efforts.
“I want to personally thank Rep. Velis for his continued excellent work in Boston constantly fighting for his community,” said Sullivan. “This amendment is another example of cooperation in channeling our efforts to make sure the citizens of Westfield are taken care of each time the opportunity presents itself. Rep. Velis thinking ahead has again put the city at the table to negotiate for financial assistance and reimbursement.”
The bill included $8.4 million for the testing of potential per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination of water supplies and for grants to support treatment and design of affected drinking water systems; provided, that any unexpended funds in this item shall not revert but shall be made available for the purpose of this item until June 30, 2021.
It also included an operating transfer of $20 million to the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust to support drinking water programs to remediate PFAS contamination of public water supplies, including but not limited to zero percent-interest loans. An additional $35 million was transferred to the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust to support its purposes as set forth in chapter 29C of the General Laws, including to increase project capacity.
PFAS have been detected in public water supplies in Westfield, Ayer, Barnstable, Harvard, Hudson, Mashpee, Middleton and Shirley, according to the Department of Environmental Protection.
The supplemental budget was forwarded to the Senate following the Oct. 16 House vote.

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