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“We cannot have Hopkinton become the Flint, Michigan of Massachusetts”

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Southborough Voters Approve Audit of Hopkinton MWRA Plan

Yesterday at Southborough’s Town Meeting, voters overwhelmingly approved to proceed with a peer review and independent audit of the engineering and design plan for the proposed Hopkinton MWRA connection. 

Southborough’s John Butler made the MWRA presentation at Town Meeting on March 25, 2023

In a 25-minute presentation, Southborough resident John Butler presented the plan and project details to residents. 

Through several slides, Butler noted that he believes we “must help our neighbor” and “this plan is good for Southborough now and in the long run”. He also pointed out that working together will avert a state-mandated solution.

Butler previously served on the Advisory Committee and is volunteering as a liaison to the Southborough Select Board throughout this process.

“We cannot have Hopkinton become the Flint, Michigan of Massachusetts,” he said.

>> RELATED: Southborough Voters to determine fate of Hopkinton Water

The multi-year project will allow Hopkinton to connect to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) and Quabbin reservoir, solving two key problems: ensuring an adequate water supply now and into the future, and eliminating the cancer-causing PFAS that has been detected in the town’s water supply.

The MWRA has excess capacity, an estimated 100 million gallons per day of extra water, while peak usage for for Hopkinton is estimated to be only 2.7 million gallons per day. The Quabbin has also been tested extensively and has shown either indetectable or negligable traces of PFAS.

Because Hopkinton is funding all aspects of this project – including an extra $1 million for water-related improvements – Southborough residents will benefit from system upgrades at no cost.

Hopkinton DPW Director John Westerling spoke during the public comment period. “I respectfully request that the voters of Southborough approve this motion. We have residents that are forced to purchase bottled water when they are pregnant, breastfeeding or immune compromised.”

According to Butler, 65% of Hopkinton residents are served by town water, while 35% have private wells.

The motion before Southborough residents was to approve an independent audit of the plan at a cost of $200,000, to be reimbursed by Hopkinton. “We want a second set of eyes on it,” explained Butler.

The Chair clarified that this was not a vote to approve the project, but rather a vote to approve the audit. There are many steps remaining, including design and engineering reviews as well as state approvals. 

Several residents spoke with warmth for their neighbor and strong support of the project. “The people are in trouble and we have to do something,” said one. 

After a little more than an hour of question & answer the motion was approved by residents nearly unanimously.

The entire discussion, including public comment, is available here.

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  1. Has any effort been made to locate the source of the PFAS contamination and who might be responsible?

    What will happen to all the existing water infrastructure? I.e. Water filtration plant on Fruit St, wells and pump houses, tanks at HS and School St


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