CFPUA: No PFAS found in water treated by GAC filters

Recent testing shows that no GenX or per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are currently being detected in the treated water.
Published: Oct. 11, 2022 at 10:55 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority has announced that 100 percent of the water being sent from the Sweeney Water Treatment Plant is being treated by granular activated carbon (GAC) filters as of this time.

According to their announcement, recent testing shows that no GenX or per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are currently being detected in the treated water. The latest test was completed on Oct. 7.

“As of October 2022, 100 percent of the water being sent from Sweeney to the water distribution system is being treated by the GAC filters,” a CFPUA news release stated. “Testing shows that no PFAS compounds are currently being detected in the treated water.”

PFAS are considered “forever chemicals” because of their tendency not to break down in the environment or the human body.

Once it was discovered that Chemours has been dumping toxic chemicals into the Cape Fear River for decades, local leaders got to work on finding a way to clean up the region’s drinking water.

“To see this day come today in that short amount of time, I mean, they talk about time, warp speed, this is warp speed,” said Wilmington City Councilman Charlie Rivenbark.

CFPUA has built eight deep-bed GAC filters at the plant, which provides drinking water to approximately 80 percent of the utility’s customers.

“We have demonstrated through all of our testing that we can remove a very broad range of PFAS compounds. So, I think we’re positioned very well,” said CFPUA Deputy Executive Director Carel Vandermeyden.

While local leaders and customers are relived to finally have access to clean drinking water, many say there is more work to be done to hold Chemours accountable.

“This is now a toxic river,” said Cape Fear River Watch Executive Director Dana Sargent. “You know, our goal is for swimmable, fishable drinkable water. The water itself is not drinkable until it goes through multimillion-dollars worth of filtration.”

The project cost $43 million to complete, and will cost around $5 million per year to operate.

“This was not a easy and cheap fix. This was a very expensive fix, up over 40-some million dollars. And we intend to collect every dime of that,” said Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo.

CFPUA says customers are seeing an average rate increase of 8.5 percent. Executive Director Kenneth Waldroup wants Chemours to pay that price.

“Chemours should live up to their corporate values and be a good neighbor and step forward to cover those costs,” Waldroup said.

A Chemours representative said the company cannot comment on pending litigation, as there are several lawsuits calling on Chemours to cover these filtration costs.

“The solution is that the company stops manufacturing [PFAS], they’re continuing to pump it into the river,” said Sargent. “This makes CFPUA and any other utility and any other person in their home have to then filter it at their own, you know, at their own expense, and that is simply just wrong.”

Monitoring of raw and treated water will continue to take place at Sweeney. Results of these tests can be found on the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority website. You can see if your water is treated by the plant on this map.