There are harmful chemicals in North Carolina’s waterways. Will lawmakers address the problem?

2021-05-05

The public utility for Wilmington and New Hanover County will spend about $46 million to filter out potentially carcinogenic “forever chemicals” from drinking water for an estimated 200,000 people.

In neighboring Brunswick County, bids totaling $137 million have been approved for a similar filtration system to remove per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances known as PFAS to be completed within the next two years.

In Cumberland County, officials have approved spending $10 million to run public water lines to two schools and homes whose wells have been contaminated with the substances, much of which is the result of contamination emanating from the smokestacks at the Chemours Fayetteville Works plant on the border of Bladen County.

And in the small Chatham County town of Pittsboro, officials are eyeing a $42 million filtration system for the removal of PFAS and perhaps an even more troubling chemical, a likely carcinogen known as 1,4 dioxane. The money would also expand the town’s water treatment plant.

If these projects move forward, ratepayers — and not the companies that contaminated the water supplies — will be footing the bills. Brunswick County recently announced in January that it is raising rates to offset filtration costs and expansion of its water treatment plant. Lawsuits have been filed in New Hanover and Brunswick counties in an effort to recoup the money.

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North Carolina Health News, 5 May 2021
; https://www.northcarolinahealthnews.org/2021/05/05/there-are-harmful-chemicals-in-north-carolinas-waterways-will-lawmakers-address-the-problem/