NEW HANOVER COUNTY — A $43-million project in the works for three years to filter out PFAS contamination in drinking water will finally be completed by the end of the year.
The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority announced Wednesday that it received an update from Black and Veatch, the contracted project manager.
Black and Veatch told CFPUA board members the project is facing delays resulting from supply-chain issues and labor shortages but the new granular activated carbon filters installed at the Sweeney Water Treatment Plant could be operational by fall.
Under construction since November 2019, four of the eight filters should be in use prior to December 2022, according to a CFPUA press release. With half of the filters working, it will be enough to provide effective PFAS treatment to a standard where the levels are at or near non-detection. The plant Sweeney Plant services 80% of CFPUA customers.
After PFAS were revealed in Wilmington’s drinking water in 2017 due to Chemours dumping chemicals into the Cape Fear River, CFPUA conducted an extensive pilot study to identify carbon technology as the best fit for the Sweeney Plant.
As of Wednesday, preparation and testing had been completed on one filter and work was in the process for a second one. Only one can be prepped at a time.
Trucks carrying GAC for the filters began arriving in late July at the water treatment facility. Each filter will hold 320,000 pounds of GAC, and eight truckloads were delivered over about three days.
Once GAC is installed in a filter, it must be “washed” and “rinsed” over a number of days to prepare proper water-quality goals. The process occurs in succession for each of the eight filters.
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