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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

CFPUA announces public hearings for emerging-contaminants plan

The public hearings will address current and future measures to filter out Gen-X and other contaminants, as well as the cost - to CFPUA and its customers - of these measures.

CFPUA — After approving $4 million in contracts to address Gen-X and other emerging per – and poly-fluorinated compounds, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority has no announced four public hearings to address long-term plans to deal with these contaminants.

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

The long-term plan involves major upgrades to CFPUA’s Sweeney Water Treatment Plant. Improvements are expected to drastically improve the facilities ability to filter out Gen-X and other chemical compounds — but they will be expensive; the estimated cost will be around $46 million.

CFPUA is planning to apply for state grants to cover the cost, to reduce or eliminate the financial burden on rate-payers. The utility has also filed suit against Chemours and DuPoint, the primary produces of per- and polyfluorinated chemicals upstream along the Cape Fear.

However, according to the utility, average rate-payers could see their monthly bill increase by around $5 until the cost of improvements are reimbursed either from civil suit damages or state grant funding (or a combination of the two).

In the meantime, CFPUA has planned four public meetings, and has encouraged the public to “attend any of the public meetings to learn more about CFPUA’s plan, ask questions of CFPUA staff, and share comments.”

Meeting dates, times, and locations are as follows:

  • Thursday, Oct. 25 from 6 – 7:30 pm at the CFCC Union Station: Room U-470, 502 N. Front St., Wilmington
  • Saturday, Oct. 27 from 11 – 12:30 pm at the North East Library: Oleander Room, 1241 Military Cutoff Road
  • Tuesday, Oct. 30 from 10 – 11:30 am at Halyburton Park: Community Building Main Room, 4099 S. 17th St., Wilmington
  • Thursday, Nov. 8 from 5 – 6:30 pm at CFCC North Campus: Room NE-108, 4500 Blue Clay Road, Castle Hayne,

According to CFPUA, highlights of the presentations will be:

  • We know our current treatment technology is unable to remove PFAS from the water and information on the health effects of these compounds remains limited. Still, public health experts agree that reducing exposure to these compounds is beneficial.
  • A pilot study conducted at the Sweeney Plant over the past year has shown that installing a Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) filtration system would reduce PFAS in the finished drinking water. On October 10, 2018, the CFPUA Board approved the design contract for a new GAC system.
  • In the interim, CFPUA will adjust the existing filtration process to reduce PFAS levels until the upgrade is complete. This solution is only temporary and would not be practical in the future as water demands increase.
  • Upgrades to an advanced treatment facility like the Sweeney Plant are costly. The combined costs of our interim solution and the permanent solution would exceed $46 million— an expense we do not believe our community should have to pay.
  • A typical residential customer would see a monthly five dollar increase on their bill until the costs of design and construction have been reimbursed.

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