“WILMINGTON — The Cape Fear River Assembly’s 45th annual meeting Wednesday was focused squarely on GenX, with researchers and government officials describing how the discovery of the chemical in Wilmington’s drinking water has shifted their thinking.

‘It takes a community to address an issue like this. No one entity is going to be able to solve all of the problems,’ said Linda Culpepper, the interim director of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Water Resources…

Wednesday, Frank Styers, CFPUA’s chief operation officer, recalled the agency receiving thousands of calls after the story became public. Styers was addressing members of the Cape Fear River Assembly, a group that seeks to offer information on the river basin…

CFPUA ultimately received some funding from the state as part of House Bill 56, allowing it to further study filtration devices. Following that study, the agency determined that a granular activated carbon filtration device is the most effective method to keep GenX and other perfluorinated contaminants out of the area’s drinking water.

Earlier in May, CFPUA’s board authorized agency staff to negotiate a design contract for the upgrades. If the construction is ultimately approved, it will cost about $46 million, plus an additional $2 million annually to operate. CFPUA water customers will see an average annual increase of $60 for the project.

Brunswick County has, after its own study, moved toward building a $99 million low-pressure reverse osmosis plant.

Detlef Knappe, the N.C. State environmental engineering professor who was part of the team that discovered GenX could not be filtered, also presented at Wednesday’s meeting.

There were, Knappe said, four lessons from the GenX issues. Those included the need to apply advanced analytical methods such as non-targeted analysis to determine what other chemicals are in the water, communicating science in venues other than academic journals, the change that can come when the public joins elected officials in voicing their concerns and that chemicals with unknown risks can lead to greater concern than those with known risks.”

Read the full article by Adam Wagner