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MassDEP and the City of Fall River Reach Agreement to Remove All Lead Service Lines from City’s Drinking Water System 

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and the City of Fall River have reached a settlement requiring the municipality to take stronger steps to remove lead service lines throughout the city following a lead action level exceedance (ALE) during water quality testing conducted in 2021. MassDEP will suspend the $25,300 penalty as long as Fall River fully complies with the requirements outlined in a consent order signed by the parties. The settlement will result in the replacement of all lead service lines in the city water distribution system.

In 2021, more than 10 percent of Fall River’s test samples found elevated levels of lead in its drinking water, resulting in an ALE – the city’s first lead exceedance since 2005. Under Massachusetts’ Drinking Water Regulations and the federal Lead and Copper Rule, when lead concentrations exceed an action level of 15 parts per billion (ppb) in more than 10 percent of water samples, the system must undertake several additional actions to control corrosion, reduce exposure, and educate the public about the adverse health effects of lead in drinking water. In Fall River’s case, such actions include submitting biweekly water quality data from the entry point to its distribution system and submitting to MassDEP a Lead Service Line Replacement (LSLR) plan.

Fall River reported to MassDEP that, as of June 2022, it had approximately 3,700 known partial or full LSLs in its distribution system. The LSLR plan requires the city to replace at least 400 to 600 LSLs per year until all service lines are replaced, including all lines on city property as well as LSL connections on private property – at no cost to the property owner. The settlement also requires the city to regularly report to MassDEP on its progress of replacing LSLs, and to submit an annual report outlining where LSLs were replaced during the previous year and where additional LSLs will be addressed moving forward. The city is expected to utilize local, state, and federal funding sources to implement the replacement plan.

“Through this important settlement, MassDEP and the City of Fall River are working together to ensure that residents are receiving water that is safe to drink and protective of the public health,” said Millie Garcia-Serrano, director of MassDEP’s Southeast Regional Office in Lakeville. “During this process, Mayor Coogan and the City of Fall River stepped up and committed to the removal of all public and private lead service lines, a significant action that will serve to reduce consumers’ exposure to lead and improve health outcomes for its residents.”

MassDEP’s mission is to protect and enhance the Commonwealth’s natural resources – air, water and land – to provide for the health, safety and welfare of all people, and a clean and safe environment for future generations. In carrying out this mission, MassDEP commits to address and advance environmental justice and equity for all people of the Commonwealth, provide meaningful, inclusive opportunities for people to participate in agency decisions that affect their lives and ensure a diverse workforce that reflects the communities served by the agency.