Water Quality

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has issued draft regulations that will set maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for a series of PFAS compounds.  Proposed MCLs for PFOA and PFOS are both set at 4 parts per trillion (ppt) which are quite a bit lower than MassDEP requirements.  A hazard index will be used to regulate 4 additional chemicals - PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS and HFPO-DA.  Test results for all of these compounds are available at https://www.topsfieldpublicworks.org/apps/watertesting/.  The draft regulations also include Maximum Contaminant Level Goals of zero ppt for PFOS and PFOA.  Ultimately EPA doesn't want to have any PFOS or PFOA in drinking water but there are limitations that prevent this including testing accuracy, removal effectiveness and economics.  These considerations are why the proposed MCL is 4 ppt.

We conduct hundreds of water quality tests each year. Results are now available on our Water Quality Site which includes information about which water sources are in use. The site has been under development for several years and more functionality will be added as time permits.


PFAS are a broad group of manmade chemicals used for a wide variety of purposes. Used since the 1950s, these compounds are in fire-fighting foams, clothing, flame retardants, food packaging, water proofing materials, and carpeting to name a few. These compounds, of which there are reportedly thousands, are structurally and chemically different from each other but share certain properties such as very strong carbon-fluoride bonds that make them very durable in that they do not readily breakdown in the environment, are not affected by natural biological processes, and can persist for years.

Some of these compounds were first detected in our water during the fall of 2019. Further tests conducted in 2020 have confirmed the presence of these chemicals in varying amounts. We now test for 18 of these compounds on a monthly basis. For detailed testing results please visit our water quality site at  https://www.topsfieldpublicworks.org/apps/watertesting/.

MassDEP promulgated new regulations concerning PFAS which took effect in October 2020. 

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Water Department

279 Boston Street

Topsfield, MA 01983


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Highway Department

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Topsfield, MA 01983


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