Read the full article by Kirk Ross (Coastal Review Online)

“Schools in New Hanover and Brunswick counties are installing new water filling stations and special filters in reaction to continuing concerns about levels of industrial contaminants found in drinking water systems.

The move to reduce per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, comes after a nationwide report again highlighted high levels of the compounds in water supplies, with Brunswick County registering the highest levels in the country and the Wilmington region listed as the fifth highest.

The new filtration systems use reverse osmosis, or RO, the method that’s been determined to be most effective in reducing levels of the compounds. Initial plans call for one RO station at each school.

Last week, the Brunswick County Board of Education reviewed a plan for a pilot project to test reverse osmosis stations at Lincoln Elementary and Belville Elementary, both in Leland, and a third-party testing lab to monitor before-and-after results.

Earlier this month, the New Hanover County School Board agreed to move $142,582 in its capital projects fund to begin a similar project.

New Hanover County School Board member Stefanie Adams said the approved funding will go to start engineering studies of how and where to put in RO filters in the county’s 30 affected schools, but it won’t cover the total cost of the program. Moving ahead with the program is essential, she said, especially considering that the installation of new filtration systems at Cape Fear Public Utility Authority’s Sweeney Treatment Plant is expected to take about three years to complete.

‘There’s definitely the interest to move forward and make sure we are providing safe water in all of our schools,’ Adams said. ‘It’s a crisis and it’s absolutely imperative that we quickly and expediently get these services available to our children and our school staff.’

Adams said worries about the safety of schools’ drinking water remain high throughout the community.

‘I know this as a parent,’ she said. ‘I have a son who is 8 years old, and I lived here when I was pregnant, and I drank the water from the tap. When he was an infant, if I made formula, I made it from the tap’…

She said that after an Environmental Working Group report on PFAS in drinking water came out last fall, volunteers collected more than 2,000 signatures asking for an alternative water source for students in both school systems.

The group gathered quotes from reverse osmosis system providers that put the cost of installing three stations in each of the 30 affected schools in the New Hanover County system at roughly $350,000. The estimate also included a three-year maintenance agreement…”