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Cape Fear Public Utility Authority releases 2021 water quality report

Iron levels were one of the few contaminants which showed a reported level higher than what is recommended
Published: Mar. 29, 2022 at 4:24 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority released its annual water quality report this week, giving a clear picture of what’s coming out of your tap — including more PFAS components.

A spokesperson for CFPUA said that’s because it monitored for more of those compounds in 2021. In 2020, it had the technology to detect 13 PFAS contaminants. The 2021 report includes 17.

“We’re always looking for PFAS contaminants to add to our monitoring as monitoring methods become available for those,” said CFPUA assistant public information officer Cammie Bellamy. “We are still finding Chemours’s PFAS in the water and we are looking forward to our granular activated carbon filters coming online this summer.”

That means by this time next year, the numbers on the water quality report for PFAS contaminants will drop dramatically as the filtering systems come online.

Overall, the report did not show any trace of harmful contaminants like E. coli in the water. Other contaminants, like fluoride and chlorine, came in well below the limits set by the EPA.

Dozens of tests done throughout the year are summarized in the report and not every test is reported in the same way. For example, copper is reported by noting the 90th percentile. Meanwhile, the level of iron on the report is the highest level found throughout the year.

Iron levels were one of the few contaminants which showed a reported level higher than what is recommended. The report puts iron levels at 0.53 parts per trillion (ppt) while the federal recommendation is only 0.3 ppt. Despite that higher number, it’s no cause for concern because the report only shows the highest report from all the tests conducted throughout the year.

“The EPA asks us to track a few minerals — things like iron and characteristics such as pH — that won’t necessarily affect the safety or health effects of your water but can affect things like taste, color, appearance,” said Bellamy. “Sometimes, with a high iron level, you may get a little bit of a metallic taste to water, but another thing that this report takes into consideration is this is also sampling results from our emergency water wells.”

Because some of those tests are done on the emergency water wells, the results are not indicative of what’s coming out of the tap in your home on a day-to-day basis. The 0.53 ppt iron level shown on the report could also be from a single test. Bellamy says the levels of each contaminant in your glass of water are likely somewhere in the middle of the data range reported.

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