Brunswick County Chairman responds to water rate questions

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Randy Thompson, Brunswick County Chairman (Photo: Brunswick County)

BOLIVIA, NC (WWAY) — Brunswick County Chairman Randy Thompson has released a response to questions from county residents about upcoming water rate hikes.

In a press release, Thompson says that the presence of PFAS compounds in drinking water continues to spark regional concerns about how they might impact residents’ health and the county’s economy in the years to come.

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He says that is the reason why Brunswick County Commissioners made a decision in 2018 to install an advanced low-pressure reverse osmosis system at a water plant to remove PFAS from water.

“We all knew installing reverse osmosis would come at a cost—but perhaps not as much as you thought,” Thompson says. “The average county residential customer will pay around $34.68 a month for their water; that’s less than $10 more a month and still keeps us right in line with the average for other coastal North Carolina communities and the state median.

“Meanwhile, the average county wholesale customer—those who purchase water from a municipality that buys its water from the County—are estimated to see less than an $11 increase per month, assuming your municipal utility directs their rate increase down to you at all.”

Thompson says that Brunswick County has no control over how much the county’s wholesale customers charge their customers. He says, “It is a wholesale customer’s decision whether and how they will pass on any increase down to their customers or if they can absorb it into their current rate structure. Right now, that increase is $2.36 per 1,000 gallons.”

Thompson also addressed question son why companies responsible for the presence of PFAS compounds are not being forced to pay for the reverse osmosis plant.

“We have every intention of holding Chemours and DuPont responsible for the millions of dollars we are spending on reverse osmosis—that’s why we entered into a joint lawsuit with other utilities to seek monetary damages,” Thompson says. “But lawsuits take time, and so does constructing a reverse osmosis system—that’s why we’re building one now. Should Brunswick County receive any proceeds from the lawsuit, we will review how we can use them to support all our customers.”

The county applied for federal and state funds, but these ultimately did not work out due to a variety of factors. Meanwhile, the county’s allocations from the Coronavirus Relief Fund were restricted to pandemic- and health-related expenditures only.