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Posted on: January 3, 2023

CFPUA combines Sweeney and Richardson drinking water distribution systems

Running faucet

CFPUA has consolidated its two largest drinking water distribution systems into a single system, as of Tuesday, January 3, 2023.

The integration combines distribution systems served by the Sweeney and Richardson water treatment plants. Sweeney sources raw water from the Cape Fear River and treats about 80 percent of treated drinking water CFPUA distributes customers. Richardson treats raw water from groundwater wells and produces about 15 percent of CFPUA’s drinking water, distributed in portions of northern New Hanover County and the Ogden and Porters Neck areas. The integration does not affect the operation of the two treatment plants.

The remaining 5 percent of drinking water is distributed in the groundwater well-based Monterey Heights system in southern New Hanover County. Monterey Heights will continue to operate as a separate distribution system.

Do all customers in the integrated system now receive some combination of drinking water treated at Sweeney and Richardson?

No. Most customers in the combined system will continue to receive water from the same treatment plants that served them prior to integration. Water is flowing only from the Sweeney side into the Richardson side. Some customers in Castle Hayne who had been receiving water from Richardson will now receive water from Sweeney. A fraction of customers near the two interconnections in the Murrayville and Castle Hayne areas (known as the “blending zone”) will see some combination of water from the two plants. 

Will customers notice any difference in their drinking water?

No changes in water quality or pressure are expected as a result of the Sweeney-Richardson system integration. CFPUA has been planning for the integration for several months, in coordination with the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. CFPUA staff will be instituting increased water-quality monitoring in the blending zone through March. It is possible that, initially, some customers in the Murrayville and Castle Hayne areas could notice some cloudiness or discoloration in their water as the direction of water flow changes in some pipes. This is temporary, and the drinking water is safe for consumption and other uses. Customers who are experiencing water quality concerns may call CFPUA’s water emergency hotline: 910-332-6565. 

What about PFAS?

New Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) filters at the Sweeney Water Treatment Plant have been in operation since October 2022. These filters continue to reduce PFAS resulting from Chemours’ pollution in the Cape Fear River to levels at or near non-detection during treatment.

Why were the Sweeney and Richardson systems combined?

The combined systems will reduce operational complexity and enhance flexibility. Combining the two systems results in a single water quality monitoring schedule. In addition, it will allow CFPUA to manage increased water demands more effectively during events such as droughts.

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