In early October, the North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 56—legislation that appropriated funds to CFPUA and UNCW to conduct studies on water quality in the Cape Fear River Basin. The work being done with this money is already advancing the science on unregulated compounds, and will provide tangible benefits to the region in water treatment progress.
The study that discovered GenX in the Cape Fear River prompted the development of several new testing methods that had previously not existed. Several labs are now able to test water samples for the compound. In addition, researchers at UNCW, and in other organizations, are working to develop reliable testing methods for sediment and biosolids contamination. UNCW’s work in identifying new compounds in the river will lead to the development of new tests for other unregulated compounds—allowing labs to test for these compounds in other parts of the state as well.
At Sweeney Water Treatment Plant, CFPUA staff are conducting pioneering work on the effectiveness of treatment technologies to remove short chain per-fluorinated compounds. While other water utilities across the country use Granular Activated Carbon or Ion Exchange, those technologies have not been tested in their potential to remove compounds like GenX. The final results of the pilot study will provide useful data not just to CFPUA, but to other utilities that may be dealing with similar water quality concerns.
There is no replacement for strong regulation and enforcement. However, water testing methods and treatment technology are tools available at the local level to fight against unregulated contaminants in the water supply, and the studies funded under HB 56 will make those tools even stronger.
On September 20, 2017, CFPUA began pumping water out of the Aquifer Storage and Recovery well to remove nearly 50 million gallons of water that contains GenX. We are 47 percent of the way to our goal. We will continue to update the public as the project moves forward.