Late yesterday, CFPUA received an email from Dr. Detlef Knappe regarding on-going testing of unregulated compounds at the EPA lab in Research Triangle Park. The new results from June and July show estimated levels of two compounds that Dr. Knappe had found in his original November 2016 report.
According to the email, the data shows that estimated levels of PFO2HxA and PFO3OA in the Cape Fear River have dramatically dropped since late June 2017. This is good news. However, the data also shows levels of the compounds, while still trending downward, have not dropped as much in the treated water from Sweeney Water Treatment Plant.
This information has been distributed to NCDEQ, NCDHHS, our partners at UNCW, and our consultants at Black & Veatch. We have asked these experts to weigh in on the results and prioritize trying to determine the cause. We would like to be careful to note that this test data appears to be from earlier this summer, and though definitely of interest, may or may not represent current conditions (with respect to quantities in today’s water). That too is something we are trying to determine.
As has been widely reported over the past several months, CFPUA, and other groups such as DEQ and EPA, are testing water from the Cape Fear River, as well as treated water, to confirm whether Chemours has stopped or reduced discharges of unregulated chemicals to the river.
Since early June, our community has been working to understand the wide-ranging issues associated with unregulated compounds in the Cape Fear River. Local governments, utilities, community activists, media and business leaders have come together to document water quality and ensure our water source is reliable and clean. As a water provider, CFPUA has taken deliberate steps to address two critical issues: unregulated chemicals in the river and our plant’s ability to treat for them.
First, we are working with researchers at UNCW to identify and quantify compounds in the river that could affect drinking water. They are paying special attention to compounds that Dr. Knappe detected in his original 2016 study. This work is underway and is expected to be complete in mid-2018.
Second, we are contracting with the nationally recognized engineering firm Black & Veatch, which also designed Sweeney Water Treatment Plant. They are known for finding innovative solutions to protect water at its source, treating it to the highest standards and delivering it to homes and businesses.
Third, we are working with Black & Veatch to test different materials to find out whether our filter system at the Sweeney plant could be upgraded to remove various compounds. Granular activated carbon has proven effective at other plants in the nation in filtering compounds such as those detected in the river. This work is also underway and we should have preliminary results within six months.
CFPUA is evaluating all aspects of the sampling, analysis and treatment processes to fully understand the data and the potential implications for our water quality. This is one of the key questions Black & Veatch and the researchers at UNCW will help us answer.
This information highlights the importance of CFPUA’s pilot testing programs within the Sweeney Water Treatment Plant as well as our partnership with the scientific community at UNCW and other state universities. That work is already underway, which allows us to quickly integrate new findings into the on-going testing of new treatment technologies.
CFPUA is dedicated to providing the highest quality of drinking water to our customers. We feel confident that the on-going work with our partners will help us to better understand and address future findings. We will keep you up to date as we learn more.
Earlier this week, CFPUA received results for September 20 from our on-going GenX testing at the Sweeney Water Treatment Plant. Levels of GenX continue to remain below the DHHS health goal of 140 ppt.