Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Candidates in favor of reverse osmosis plant hope to hold seats on H2GO board

EDITOR’S NOTE: We caught up with candidates running for the three open seats on Brunswick County’s H2GO Board of Commissioners. Thought the seats will be elected individually, this contentious election has two separate, three-candidate groups that differ philosophically from the other in nearly every topic relevant to this election.

In favor of the reverse osmosis plant 

  • Ron Jenkins (I)
  • Carl Antos (I)
  • Rodney McCoy

Opposed to the reverse osmosis plant

  • Brayton Willis
  • Bill Beer
  • Donald Yousey

This piece covers the group that is “Pro-RO.” The other covers the group that is saying “No to RO.”

Carl Antos did not respond to multiple requests for an interview.

BRUNSWICK COUNTY — Two candidates currently serving on H2GO’s Board of Commissioners, Ron Jenkins and Carl Antos, along with one newcomer, Rodney McCoy, are running to fill three open seats.

The group is in favor of continuing plans that have been underway for six years to install a reverse osmosis plant, while their opposition hopes to halt their plans and pursue alternative options.

Leland’s Town Council voted in June to delay plans for the reverse osmosis plant until after the election on Nov. 7.

Affordability

The three that support the reverse osmosis plant support following through with existing plans to construct a plant that has been in the works for years. Roughly $ 9 million has already been spent on the project, which is currently estimated to cost a total of $35 million.

The group in support of the plant believes that to pursue alternative options and stop the plant would be a move to throw away the $9 million that has been invested thus far.

“Nine million will go down the drain,” Jenkins said.

McCoy said the group did a complete analysis and determined that the plant was the most economically feasible thing to do. Despite what the group opposing the plant claims, he says the rates would not go up.

“There will be no increase,” McCoy said. “Any cost to make this an operation is more than covered by a $1.4 million dollar surplus generated over an annual basis by H2GO.”

County Involvement

After putting out fliers that listed known contaminants in the water, and stating that the aquifer water H2GO intends to draw from is contaminant free, the county sent out a notice stating the information fliers was “patently false.”

McCoy said he and the two incumbents were displeased with the county’s response.

“The county’s response was incorrect,” McCoy said. “They compared their data to an aquifer that they’re using, but the one H2GO intends to use will be 100 percent contaminant free.”

Each year, the county reportedly generates more than $1 million dollars by supplying water to taxpayers.

“The county stands to lose $1.8 million so, you can understand why they’re trying to hold us off from building this plant,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins believes Brunswick County government has a monopoly on the water in the county, who has been buying its water from Cape Fear Public Utility Authority.

“You see the stuff that the county is putting out trying to discredit us,” he said.

As for why the group wishes to uncouple from the county, McCoy said, “you can’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

Science

“We’re planning to build a reverse osmosis plant that will filter out the contaminants,” Jenkins said.

The group warns of the possible health effects the contaminants may pose, including cancer, thyroid and liver problems.

McCoy says there are 10 chemicals present in the water in excess of EPA guidelines. For chemicals like GenX, he says continued testing is needed to prove if a carbon filtration system is an effective option. 

“The reverse osmosis system would remove the salt in the water and it will go to H2GO customers completely free of all of the GenX type compounds,” McCoy said.

“An alternate water source is recommended by all water security experts,” he said.

The aquifer the group plans to source their water from is an aquifer that is approximately 6,800 feet in the ground. Jenkins says the there will be “no contaminants if we build a reverse osmosis plant from an aquifer.”

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