CFPUA denied $47M state grant to help pay for treatment plant upgrades

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CFPUA receives the material to begin pilot testing Granular Activated Carbon at the Sweeney Water Treatment Plant. (Photo: CFPUA)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Money to upgrade a water treatment plant in New Hanover County to filter out GenX and other PFAS compounds will not come from a state grant as hoped.

The Cape fear Public Utility Authority said today it learned last week that the State Water Infrastructure Authority has denied the authority’s application for a $46.9 million grant to fund upgrades at the Sweeney Water Treatment Plant to filter compounds resulting from decades of discharges by Chemours and DuPont.

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CFPUA wanted the money to pay to build new granular activated carbon (GAC) filters at the Sweeney Plant. The utility says GAC filters emerged as the best solution for CFPUA and its customers following pilot testing of possible options, including reverse osmosis and ion exchange media.

“It is unfortunate that the state did not approve our grant application,” CFPUA Executive Director Jim Flechtner said in a statement.

Flechtner also said Chemours and DuPont should stay up to pay for better water treatment.



“Ultimately, though, these costs should be borne by the parties responsible for the PFAS compounds affecting the water in the Cape Fear River. Similarly, these parties should be stepping forward to take responsibility for the PFAS compounds found in groundwater near our Aquifer Storage and Recovery well.”

If the CFPUA Board approved upgrades to the Sweeney Plant upgrades, CFPUA says construction on the new GAC filters would begin in November. Operation would begin in early 2022. CFPUA expected the upgrades to cost an additional $2.9 million per year.

Revenue bonds would be sold to pay for construction. Financing these bonds and the additional operating costs are expected to result in an increase of $5 per month for the average CFPUA customer, the utility says.

CFPUA has filed a federal lawsuit against Chemours and DuPont to recover these and other costs resulting from the companies’ actions.