Finish date pushed back for filtration system to remove PFAS

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 5:37 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Keeping our water clean is an ongoing process, but Cape Fear Public Utility Authority customers now have to wait a bit longer to see PFAS removed from their drinking water.

A new filtration system that was supposed to be up and running at the start of next year now isn’t expected to go online until June. Officials with CFPUA say it has to do with the supply chain and labor shortages that are plaguing the nation along with COVID-19-related problems. In the meantime, CFPUA is working to keep as much PFAS out of your drinking water as it can.

The public utility authority’s board voted this morning to spend $700,835 to replace the Granular Activated Carbon system that helps filter out PFAS contaminants like GenX. The Sweeny Water Treatment Plant has 14 of those filters in place right now, but only seven will be out of service while the carbon is replaced. Customers won’t see any interruption in service during this time.

These replacements have happened regularly since 2018. Although they weren’t meant to filter out PFAS, they’ll stay in place once the new system is online because they filter out other contaminants like 1,4-Dioxane.

“The current smaller filters at the plant, they can remove about 40 percent PFAS from our raw water is what we’re seeing on average,” said Cammie Bellamy, the assistant public information officer for CFPUA. “When these new deep bed filters come online next year, that will jump to about 90 percent removal, so significantly higher level of removal of PFAS.”

Most of the construction on those larger filters is scheduled to wrap up in April.

The filters cost about $46 million to design and build and will cost about $3 million each year afterward to operate. CFPUA hopes Chemours, the company that put the PFAS in the water in the first place, will foot that bill. A lawsuit pressuring the company to do so is pending in federal court.

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