Sunday, August 14, 2022

Brunswick County commissioners give go-ahead for $100 million reverse osmosis facility

Testing showed the process removed almost all identified compounds to non-detectable levels

Brunswick County has approved a nearly $100 million reverse osmosis treatment plant (Port City Daily /FILE PHOTO)
Brunswick County has approved a nearly $100 million reverse osmosis treatment plant (Port City Daily /FILE PHOTO)

BOLIVA—The Brunswick County Board of Commissioners has approved the construction of a low-pressure reverse osmosis water treatment plant. The move came during a budget workshop, and the project is expected to cost $99 million to implement, and $2.9 million annually for maintenance.

Brunswick County hired CDM Smith to collect data and conduct tests on water collected from the Cape Fear River to analyze chemicals found in the water. In April CDM Smith reported the low-pressure reverse osmosis treatment method as the most efficient and cost-effective method to treating the water.

According to a statement from Brunswick County, “The report from CDM Smith showed that the pilot LPRO system set up at the Northwest Water Treatment Plant removed 45 PFAS compounds to as close to non-detectable limits as possible. In one round of testing, all 45 PFAS compounds were removed to non-detectable levels; in a second round of testing, 44 of 45 PFAS compounds were removed to non-detectable levels. In the testing results, the total sum of 45 perflourinated chemicals was 11 nanograms per liter. All but one of the perflourinated chemicals were not detected in the treated water…”

The company tested the water to determine the presence of more than 45 compounds, including GenX. It then compared samples from untreated water and then water treated by reverse osmosis. After treatment of the water, levels of 1,4 Dioxane went from 3.2 micrograms per liter to 0.2 micrograms per liter, according to the results.

“In addition to serving over 40,000 retail customers, Brunswick County has 10 wholesale utility water customers that serve over 30,000 additional retail customers within Brunswick County. Brunswick County is evaluating treatment options that address water quality issues affecting all of the more than 70,000 customers within the County, rather than just a small subset of customers,” according to Brunswick County’s press release.

Despite the large price tag and the cost of maintenance, CDM Smith claims it is less costly than other filtration methods that would require changing of filtration material frequently.

According to the statement from Brunswick County, Preliminary design work has begun, with final design work expected to begin in September. The application process for NCDEQ (North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality) to modify the County’s existing discharge permit began in February, and has proceeded with no ‘red flags’ from regulators. Bidding and construction of the project is expected to begin in June of 2019.”

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