Read the full article by Lisa Sorg (NC Policy Watch)

“At least 1 million people living from Pittsboro to Wilmington in the Cape Fear River Basin could be exposed to high levels of toxic perfluorinated compounds.

However, that figure — equivalent to 10% of North Carolina’s population — is an undercount, because these compounds have been detected in groundwater and other river basins, including the Neuse.

Now two towns, Pittsboro and Fuquay-Varina, facing greater demand for water than they can supply, are considering tapping into another public utility for water: Sanford, where PFAS have also been detected in drinking water.

The towns’ quandaries illustrate the interconnectedness of communities and water supplies; they also raise questions about where utilities will get their water when the supplies are so widely contaminated.

Pittsboro is already  contending with high PFAS levels in its drinking water — and its residents’ blood. Research led by scientist Heather Stapleton of Duke University revealed that 49 residents’ blood is two to four times higher than the national average.

‘Drinking water is the primary source of exposure,’ Stapleton said during a virtual presentation in late October.

PFAS exposure has been linked to kidney and testicular cancers, thyroid disorders, low birth weight, high blood pressure during pregnancy and decreased immune system response and decreased fertility in women.

The same month as Stapleton’s presentation, a Water Quality Task Force appointed by Pittsboro officials recommended against buying water from Sanford, over concerns that its PFAS contamination in drinking water would add to Pittsboro’s burden.

Instead, the 328-page task force report recommended that Pittsboro source its water from a new intake on the western side of Jordan Lake. PFAS have also been detected in the lake, a drinking water supply for hundreds of thousands of people, but at lower levels than in the rivers, likely because of dilution.

The transit time for the water to travel 15 miles from Sanford to Pittsboro could also encourage the formation of disinfection byproducts. These compounds develop as an unintended consequence of adding chlorine to disinfect the water supply. Several have been linked to cancer, and regulations require utilities to manage them…”