The Northwest Water Treatment Plant in Brunswick County opened its doors Wednesday to North Carolina politicians for a tour.
NC House Speaker Time Moore, NC Rep. Frank Iler, NC Rep Ted Davis, Brunswick County Commissioner Frank Williams, and their staffs were led on a facility tour by Brunswick County Water Resources Manager Glenn Walker.
Afterwards, politicians lauded the treatment plant’s higher water quality.
“You’ve got a great plant, great personnel here who are doing it, so I think the residents here ought to feel very comfortable with the water supply and the water treatment they’re getting,” Moore said.
Politicians also addressed concerns surrounding drinking water safety related to GenX and other chemicals found in the Cape Fear River.
“I believe whatever’s in the water, every citizen ought to have a right to know,” Moore said. “I’ll tell you this, it’s a state priority.”
Reacting to Friday’s partial consent order, Moore said, “I think it’s a good idea to stop, to make sure that this is not being discharged into the water.”
Williams questioned whether certain state agencies did their job to prevent environmental contamination.
“How, between EPA and DEQ, two entities that seem to be known and have a reputation for over-regulating everything else, miss this one thing they are supposed to regulate?” Williams asked of the Environmental Protection Agency and NC Department of Environmental Quality.
When asked about preventing problems in the future, Davis used the metaphor of a bridge to explain that it’s impossible to prevent every environmental issue.
“It’s just like the loose bolt in the bridge," Davis said. "Nobody really knows the loose bolt is there. Nobody’s really trying to do anything to correct the loose bolt until the bridge collapses, and unfortunately in life, a lot of times you have to wait until something negative happens.”
Moore and Davis agreed that reliance on research and data is prudent.
“A lot of the information that we’re trying to get are from scientists," Moore said. "Folks to come in and tell us, 'These are the issues. These are not the issues.'”
Davis added: “You need to identify what these compounds are, identify the dangers that these compounds have. You have to identify how much a person has to consume for those dangers to have a negative impact on you.”
Davis said planning is underway for a meeting to continue the investigation into water contamination Sept. 28 in Raleigh. Davis said the NC House of Representatives will invite DEQ, the Department of Health and Human Services, UNC Wilmington researchers, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, and the EPA.
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