Saturday, April 13, 2024

Summer Sale: CFPUA offers 80-percent-off bulk water rate for Wrightsville Beach

The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority offered the discount rate after learning PFAS contamination in its aquifer may have spread to Wrightsville Beach's water wells.

The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority is recommending to its board that a $5 credit be issued to the thousands of residences affected by high fluoride levels. The spike in fluoride levels was caused by a mechanical malfunction. (Port City Daily photo | Benjamin Schachtman)
The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority has been in existence for 10 years now (Port City Daily photo | Benjamin Schachtman)

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH — The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority Board approved a “temporary bulk water rate” for the Town of Wrightsville Beach today; while details have not been negotiated, the special rate would be a considerable discount from the usual cost

According to CFPUA, the “special rate” will be 65 cents per 1,000 gallons, representing less than 20 percent of the standard rate of $3.48 per 1,000 gallons; the special rate would be available during the summer season for three consecutive years, during which time it would be subject to changes in price “recalculated annually to account for changes in prices for inputs such as chemicals and energy.”

CFPUA already maintains an emergency water main connection to the Town of Wrightsville Beach, which will be used to supply to the water.

Why the discount?

Why is CFPUA offering Wrightsville Beach, which operates on well water, an 80-percent discount?

According to CFPUA, PFAS compounds were discovered in one of the town’s wells, which the town had previously taken out of service. After learning about the contamination, the town filed suit against DuPont and Chemours.

“Test results that included water from Well 11 that became available in February indicated a total PFAS concentration in the aquifer of 621.16 parts per trillion (ppt). This total includes a concentration of 37 ppt for GenX, below the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ health advisory of 140 ppt,” according to CFPUA.

CFPUA believes the contaminants in the Wrightsville Beach well “have migrated from CFPUA’s nearby Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) well. The ASR was designed to store finished drinking water from the Sweeney Water Treatment Plant in the Upper PeeDee Aquifer.”

CFPUA noted that it suspended a pilot program that had been pumping water into the ASR after GenX was discovered in the aquifer; the utility subsequently pumped 48 million gallons of water back out of the aquifer to bring GenX concentrations back down under the state’s health advisory levels.

Consent order still at issue

In a release about the offer, CFPUA noted the revised consent order does still not address groundwater contamination in the Cape Fear area.

“The consent order between the state and Chemours includes a number of provisions that direct Chemours to provide relief for people near its chemical plant on the Bladen-Cumberland county line whose drinking water wells have been determined to contain PFAS compounds resulting from Chemours’ decades of releases,” CFPUA wrote in a release.

“Residents in New Hanover County also are dealing with PFAS compounds in their groundwater, PFAS that overwhelmingly originated from Chemours. North Carolina regulators took the right action in insisting that Chemours address affected wells around the Fayetteville Works. CFPUA believes the right action in this case calls for extending the same consideration to affected groundwater users in New Hanover County,” the utility added.

You can read the complete release here.


Send comments and tips to Benjamin Schachtman at ben@localvoicemedia.com, @pcdben on Twitter, and (910) 538-2001.

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