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PITTSBORO — The Pittsboro Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Monday to enter into a contract with CDM Smith to begin testing water treatment equipment at Pittsboro’s water treatment plant with the goal of removing unregulated chemicals such as PFAS from its drinking water.
The town will pay $261,268 for six to seven months of water testing.
For several years, the town board has been working to find ways to reduce the amount of unregulated chemicals in its system. The chemicals, which include 1,4 Dioxane and PFAS or Perfluoroalkyl substances, have been found in significant amounts through numerous scientific studies in the Haw River where the town gets its drinking water.
Likely originating upstream, the chemicals are not regulated by either federal or state guidelines and their removal is not required. But the town board has been concerned about their presence and contracted with CDM Smith, an engineering and construction company which provides clean water solutions, in October 2018 to investigate what options the town may have to reduce or remove them from its drinking water.
Earlier this year, CDM Smith provided four different advanced treatment options for removal of the targeted chemicals. Company representatives noted that none of the options were necessarily perfect as the removal of these particular chemicals is still in the early stages of development. Each of the options also carry different capital costs to initialize.
In addition, the company was unable to provide any operating costs as they were unsure how long the supplies required for each option to remove the chemicals will last considering the levels of chemicals in the Haw River and how much disposal costs for would be. That is the reason for the testing.
CDM Smith will provide equipment to the town’s water treatment facility on a temporary basis to facilitate the testing. Town staff will install the equipment which Pittsboro Town Manager Bryan Gruesbeck noted would likely take several days, but would not incur any additional costs beyond the contract. CDM Smith engineers will work with staff at the water treatment plant throughout the pilot operation and ensure testing of the water supply is done throughout. The company will then perform a “life-cycle cost comparison” of the four treatment options.
After the testing period, CDM Smith will return to the town and its board the information and data collection and present its recommendations and estimated cost analysis for the board’s consideration. The contract notes that the draft of the testing plan will be complete in no less than six weeks after the board’s approval on Monday. It may take up to eight weeks to procure the equipment after that.
The operational testing will take about seven months with the company returning with a draft report about six weeks after that.
Reporter Casey Mann can be reached at CaseyMann@Chathamnr.com.