CFPUA signs contract with UNCW to research water; IX testing begins

CFPUA signs contract with UNCW to research water; IX testing begins

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority and UNCW have entered a contractual agreement to research compounds in our drinking water.

According to the CFPUA's Monday afternoon update, the goal of the 12-month study is to identify "emerging contaminants and provide a scientific basis for state and federal regulatory agencies to determine whether discharge controls would be appropriate."

With the help of published research, a method for analyzing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in raw and finished drinking water will be established at UNCW, followed by a weekly raw and finished water sampling campaign that will last for eight months.

GenX, a perfluoroalkyl ether carboxylic acid or PFECA, was discharged into the Cape Fear River by the Chemours Company at its Fayetteville Works site, but there is concern that more compounds are in the water.

"It is possible that there are other poorly quantified or unidentified PFAS that are present in raw intake water or finished drinking water," the contract read.

CFPUA is paying UNCW $64,607.88 for its services. When the work is complete, CFPUA and UNCW plan to make the findings public and provide them to the NC Department of Environmental Quality, NC Department of Health and Human Services and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The contract is effective beginning Sept. 1.

CFPUA also said Monday that it is going to use additional testing to try to remove compounds from the water.

The company has been testing granular activated carbon (GAC) technology for several weeks, and starting this week, it will begin ion exchange (IX) testing.

IX is a water treatment process that applies the use of spherical particles, known as ion exchange resin. As water flows through the tank containing the resin, chemical compounds are attracted to the resin and are removed from the water.

As is the case with GAC technology, the IX resin would work until "breakthrough" is reached, at which point the old materials must be disposed of and new materials must be brought in.

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