CFPUA looks to broaden water testing

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — After receiving some good news about recent levels of GenX in its water, The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority wants to start testing for other compounds.

“We are doing a lot, and we will continue to work on behalf of our customers and our community to make sure we provide the best water we possibly can,” CFPUA executive director Jim Flechtner said.

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Flechtner said the utility continues to test its water for GenX and will until it is no longer present.

“We will test three times per week until we are confident that the numbers are down where they should be, and I can’t tell you what that level is yet, but that is something we are working on with DEQ and DHHS at the state,” Flechtner said.

Results released Tuesday showed levels of the compound significantly lower than what was found in samples taken in 2013 and 2014 that were part of the study that led to the recent concerns about water safety.

But Flechtner said more studies need to be done.

“Right now, our focus is on GenX. We want to demonstrate to our customers what that level is, but we know there are other chemicals and compounds in the river and we plan to partner with UNCW to document that and understand that as well,” Flechtner said.

Former Wilmington Mayor Harper Peterson spoke at Wednesday’s CFPUA Board meeting and said the utility has not done enough.

“This is comparable to a fire. If you see smoke you take action. They should have been three weeks ago, four weeks ago they should have been knocking on people’s doors, calling people, informing them of the impending crisis or real crisis and they haven’t done that,” Peterson said.

The CFPUA is also working with a consulting firm to understand different options to filter out GenX at its Sweeney Water Treatment Plant.

“Looking if we can change our processes, RO (reverse osmosis) and other options, but from my perspective the best answer is it shouldn’t be in the river to begin with and it shouldn’t be an expense our customers have,” Flechtner said.

We also spoke with the EPA today about our requests for information it has on GenX. We expect to get some of that information soon, including what the EPA might have known about the health effects of GenX and other similar compounds.