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PWC to learn about filters to remove PFAS and GenX from drinking water

Fayetteville’s water company aims to comply with EPA’s new ‘forever chemicals’ standards


With federal Environmental Protection Agency regulations on the horizon to keep “forever chemicals” out of drinking water supplies, the Fayetteville Public Works Commission on Wednesday is scheduled to learn more about systems it can install to filter these contaminants.

These chemicals are in the PWC’s drinking water sources, the agency says.

PWC — the city-owned utility that provides the Fayetteville area with electricity, water and sewer service — may have to spend $73 million to install new filter systems and $12 million annually to maintain them, the agency said in March.

The costs would be passed on to the customers, it said.

During the PWC board meeting at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, PWC staff will present board members with results from a study of granular activated carbon filtration and proposals to install this technology, the PWC agenda says.

A granular activated carbon filtration system runs water through carbon materials (such coal, peat, wood and coconut shells), and the carbon then absorbs contaminants, the EPA says.

Members of the public may attend the meeting in person in the PWC’s office building at 955 Old Wilmington Road in Fayetteville. Spectators may also observe the meeting through an online streaming link or by telephone. Click here for details on how to stream the meeting or listen to it.

What are ‘forever chemicals’?

“Forever chemicals” are a class of man-made chemicals, called PFAS (perfluoroalkyl substances and polyfluoroalkyl substances) that break down slowly in the environment and in the human body. They have been used since the 1940s to make a multitude of consumer products, industrial products and other items, the PWC says.

The Chemours Co. chemical plant near Fayetteville has been in the news since 2017 for its emissions of GenX, a PFAS substance, into the Cape Fear River and into the air. The county is suing Chemours as it seeks to extend drinking water to homes and schools in the Gray’s Creek area where drinking water wells are contaminated.

The EPA says human studies have found that exposure to PFAS was associated with “health effects including the liver, the immune system, the cardiovascular system, human development (e.g., decreased birth weight), and cancer.”

The EPA last year proposed new standards to reduce the amount of PFAS chemicals in drinking water.

Senior reporter Paul Woolverton can be reached at 910-261-4710 and pwoolverton@cityviewnc.com.

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