Monday, August 15, 2022

CFPUA approves $4 million in treatment plans, aims for grant funding for $46 million upgrade

CFPUA says it plans to apply for grant funding from the state's environmental agency to cover the "costly" process of upgrading its treatment plant.

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority took steps today to address water quality issues, as well as measures to shield rate-payers from the high cost of removing emerging contaminants from the drinking supply.

During Wednesday morning’s CFPUA board meeting, two contracts were approved for both short-term and a long-term treatment of perfluorinated and polyfluorinated compounds, including GenX and many others.

The first contract, for $1,300,860, was with Calgon Carbon to replace “existing filter media” at CFPUA’s Sweeney Water Treatment Plant’ the Calgon contract will address short-term filtration. A second contract, a $2,759,000 deal with Black & Veatch, will fund the design of a granular activated carbon (GAC) filter system for Sweeney, a more long-term solution.

According to CFPUA, “It is unclear what impact the compounds have on public health. Still, public health experts agree that reducing exposure to these compounds is beneficial. So, in the interest of public health, the board voted on October 10, 2018, to approve both [contracts.”

CFPUA addressed both short and long-term plans:

  • An interim solution to adjust the existing filtration process to reduce PFAS levels until the upgrade is complete. This interim solution takes filters out of service during the media replacement process and is not practical in the future as water demands increase. This interim solution can be in place as early as this winter.
  • A long-term solution for PFAS reduction begins with a post-filter GAC treatment design for the Sweeney Water Treatment Plant. The approved contract includes the design and permitting, which are expected to be completed by July 2019.

CFPUA plans to hold public meetings to discuss the long-term plans for filtering drinking water, saying the utility would release details about those meetings later this week.

CFPUA also addressed concerns that rate-payers would bear the cost of implementing whatever final design comes from the Black & Veatch contract — work that CFPUA acknowledged would be “costly,” approximately $46 million.

According to CFPUA:

“CFPUA maintains that our customers should not have to pay the costs of the GAC upgrade. To such end, the board also approved a resolution to allow CFPUA to submit a grant application to North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ). CFPUA will request state grant assistance for construction of the new GAC facility at Sweeney. We will seek a grant for the full cost of design and construction.”

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