County leaders, lawmakers tour pilot reverse osmosis system

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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Reverse osmosis water treatment has been a heated issue around the Cape Fear.

Brunswick County leaders and state lawmakers saw first hand the work of a pilot RO system at the Northwest Water Treatment Plant.

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The pilot testing began a month ago to see the benefits of a reverse osmosis municipal system.

The county has estimated building a full scale plant would cost upwards of $200 million.
County leaders were impressed with what they heard about the testing so far.

With one more test left, the pilot RO system is completely filtering out chemicals like GenX, according to pilot testers.



“Non-detectable is a good thing,” said state Senator Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick County). “That should give some assurance to the people the water, at least as GenX is concerned is now, is safe.”

“We saw some very promising initial test results obviously we have not seen the final results yet but I like what I see so far,” Brunswick County Commission Chairman Frank Williams said. “We’re committed to provide clean water for all of Brunswick County and currently everybody in Brunswick County who’s not on a well gets their water directly or indirectly from us.”

What was not shown a lot was the price tag if the county would take this system full scale.

“It’s a heck of a price tag and it’s something where we’re going to sit back and evaluate all of the options,” said Williams.

Those operating the low pressure RO pilot tests gave a report to county commissioners at their Monday evening meeting outlining the costs.

The plant will cost around $160 million with maintenance costs over a 25 year estimate. This has the town of Belville speaking out. They say the H2GO planned RO plant would not cost that much and would not cost customers.

“People in Leland, people in Magnolia Greens they’re going to look at rates that are going to jump exponentially, by their own numbers, the minimum coverage for this treatment option is a 24 percent rate increase,” said Mike McGill who is the spokesman for the transfer.

The company currently running the pilot would like to see ground broken on a full scale plant by summer of next year. They outlined to county leaders that over a 25 year scale, the RO plant would be more cost effective than other treatment processes like ion exchange and granular activated carbon.

We have reached out to the current H2GO board chairman for comment about Belville’s case for the plant.

Below are the proposed water rates and report presented to the commission.