Thanks to partnerships with a team of scientists at NC State and EPA Laboratories, Haw River Assembly continues to voice concerns about industrial contaminants in our watershed, and investigate potential pathways of contamination.
As we receive additional information, we will update these issues.
We have a new handout on our concerns about the levels of PFAS and 1.4-dioxane in the Haw River. Pittsboro is the only municipality in our watershed that uses the Haw River as it’s source for drinking water. Contamination from industrial chemicals in the upper part of the Haw River watershed are exceeding EPA health guidance standards.
The EPA has set clear limitations on 90 drinking water contaminants, but there are hundreds of “emerging contaminants” which have only recommended advisories, and are not enforceable. The Safe Drinking Water Act requires EPA to identify and monitor drinking water contaminants. However, the EPA isn’t regulating these contaminants fast enough, leaving the safety of our drinking water at risk.
Link to the full article from NC Policy Watch here.
Gen X is a new generation of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) used in many industrial applications. GenX and an earlier version of the chemical, PFOA, have likely been discharged into the Cape Fear River since the 1980s without Wilmington’s knowledge. Both GenX and PFOA have been shown in lab studies to cause tumors and reproductive problems. This contamination of public drinking water sources has illustrated how our current regulatory framework leads to potentially hazardous levels of these chemicals in our public drinking water…(read more)
The Haw River Assembly continues to be concerned about the presence of 1,4-Dioxane in Greensboro, Reidsville, Asheboro, and Pittsboro’s drinking water. 1,4-Dioxane is an industrial solvent that has been entering the Haw River via upriver municipal wastewater treatment plants for many years. Monitoring by scientists has shown it to be in high levels in the Haw River. Traditional treatment methods for drinking water do not remove this contaminant. There has recently been some progress in the reduction of the contamination in the river, and in a decision by the Town of Pittsboro to upgrade its treatment methods… (read more)
Pathways of Contamination
Municipal and Industrial Sludge Application
A report co-authored by the Haw and Catawba Riverkeepers in Oct. 2015, “Sludge in Our Waters,” revealed that industrial chemicals can contaminate drinking water supplies through stormwater runoff from land application of municipal wastewater sludge. Most industrial wastewater is treated in municipal wastewater treatment plants, and regulations do not require monitoring for these chemicals. During EPA’s study period for the advisory, large municipal water supplies in the Haw River watershed, including OWASA (serving Chapel Hill and Carrboro) and Greensboro were required to monitor for PFOS and PFOA. Both of these found PFASs in their source and/or finished drinking water, despite their water supply sources being much more protected than the Haw River. Another contaminant, the industrial solvent, 1.4-dioxane, was found in the Haw River. Similar to many PFASs, 1,4-dioxane is very difficult to remove in the drinking water treatment process… (read more)