North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality regulates drinking water throughout the state, and New Hanover County Public Health works closely with the department to advocate for the health and safety of residents. Below is information and resources from these and other agencies, to help keep the community informed about drinking water in the county, especially as it relates to GenX and PFAS.
The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s (NCDEQ) Division of Water Resources is responsible for ensuring safe drinking water in accordance with federal requirements, issues pollution control permits, monitors permit compliance, evaluates environmental water quantity and quality, and carries out enforcement actions for violations of environmental regulations. The division administers the laws, policies and rules established by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the state’s Environmental Management Commission and the N.C. General Assembly.
In June 2017, NCDEQ and the Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) began investigating the presence of a compound known as GenX in the Cape Fear River in June 2017. The Chemours facility in Fayetteville was identified as the company that produces the GenX chemical for industrial processes.
The state’s investigation focused on protection of public health and drinking water; and as part of the state’s investigation, DEQ began collecting water samples from multiple sites along the Cape Fear River, with additional samples collected throughout the region. Through this work and the advocacy of the county, city, Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, and other community partners, Chemours’ release into the Cape Fear River of GenX and two other fluorinated compounds has stopped and the state is developing better information needed to protect North Carolina’s water quality and public health.
The NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) manages the delivery of health- and human-related services for all North Carolinians. The DHHS Division of Public Health is assisting DEQ to investigate reports of the unregulated chemical known as GenX and other chemicals in the lower Cape Fear River and in July 2017, DHHS set a provisional health goal of 140 nanograms per liter (ng/L) or parts per trillion (ppt) for GenX in drinking water. This is a level of GenX in drinking water below that at which no adverse health effects would be expected over a lifetime of consumption.
The provisional health goal was calculated to protect the most vulnerable populations (i.e. bottle-fed infants) using the available toxicity studies. This Questions and Answers document provides additional information on the calculation of the provisional drinking water health goal. Below are additional resources, and you can visit the NCDHHS website here to learn more.
Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) serves more than 67,000 water customers in New Hanover County. As the county’s primary drinking water provider, CFPUA conducts hundreds of tests every month on a wide array of contaminants to monitor for compounds that are currently regulated, or may be regulated in the future, and help CFPUA to understand when future investment in more advanced treatment technology may be necessary. More information about CFPUA and drinking water quality can be viewed here.
New Hanover County Public Health permits wells, as authorized by NC DEQ, and can test for certain chemicals in well water including E. coli, fecal coliform bacteria, Arsenic, Barium, Cadmium, Chromium, Copper, Fluoride, Lead, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Mercury, Nitrate, Nitrite, Selenium, Silver, Sodium, Zinc and pH.
Public Health does not have the authority or capability to test for emerging chemicals such as GenX or PFAS, and relies on DEQ for testing.
Below is information about Public Health’s permitting and well water safety:
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets standards for drinking water quality and regulates drinking water safety. Below are two helpful links with information about the EPA and drinking water requirements and safety:
The state and federal regulators of drinking water can be contacted at the following numbers:
Cape Fear Public Utility Authority customers with drinking water questions can contact CFPUA through their website or call 910-332-6550.