“WILMINGTON — In making the case for the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) to move ahead on upgrades to its Sweeney Water Treatment Plant, the organization’s executive director said it could not depend on regulators to keep the region safe.

Citing the decades-long contamination of the region’s drinking water with GenX, Jim Flechtner said, ‘We cannot rely on the regulatory framework to deal with this. We don’t know what happened yet, but something happened and we have our source water contaminated with a compound that shouldn’t be there.’

To protect the utility’s customers from GenX and other yet-to-be-identified compounds, Flechtner asked the agency’s board to allow staff to negotiate a design contract for a $46 million upgrade to the Sweeney plant that would provide non-targeted protection against GenX and other compounds. The board unanimously approved the negotiations — which do not yet carry a price tag — Wednesday during its normal meeting.

Flechtner described a timeline that would see public input until June, a perfluorinated compound workshop for board members in August and a design contract potentially awarded in September. The contract would be for a granular activated carbon system…

Thus far, the agency has spent $1.7 million on legal fees and water testing bills to address GenX. If the plant upgrade’s construction were approved, it would need to be funded by a bond and would, Flechtner told the board, lead to an annual increase of about $60 for water and sewer customers.

CFPUA has continued to test drinking water at the Sweeney plant, with 24 parts per trillion marking the highest level since the beginning of February. The latest results, from April 11 and April 17, were 14 and 10 ppt.”

Read the full article by Adam Wagner