Greensboro Gets New System To Help Filter City Water

Greensboro Gets New System To Help Filter City Water

4:03pm Oct 08, 2018
An 800-pound bag of powdered carbon will be used as part of a filtration system at the Mitchell Plant when tests show compound levels are above federal guidelines. Image credit: Darrell Hicks, Water Supply Maintenance Superintendent with the city of Greensboro.

Greensboro has a new filtration system to help reduce potentially harmful chemicals found in the city’s drinking water.

Over the past year and a half, Greensboro water officials found elevated levels of perfluorinated compounds known as PFOS and PFOA in the drinking water supply. The contaminants are believed to have come from synthetic foams used around the PTI airport.

The Mitchell treatment plant had some of the highest concentrations, which exceeded federal health advisory levels.

A powdered activated carbon or “PAC Feed” system was recently installed at the Mitchell site to reduce the pollutants. Greensboro is leasing the new filtration system for $9,000 a month. The chemicals used in the process will cost an additional $800 a day.

The city says the technology won’t be used on a daily basis, but will kick in when levels are above the EPA’s threshold. Michael Borchers, the Assistant Director of Water Resources, says it’s a temporary solution.

“Our plans right now call for us to start design for the permanent system and it uses similar technology although it’s granular activated carbon or GAC for short, but that’s a ways down the road,” he says.

Borchers says the permanent solution is expected to take around three years to complete. The city says it will continue testing at key sites.

“We are doing weekly sampling as we work out the other tool that we are trying to put in our tool box and that is a predictive model, so we can use the system more proactively rather than reactively,” he says.

Greensboro is also looking at alternatives to firefighting foams. It’s a topic that’s getting a lot of national attention as more communities are finding the chemicals in their drinking water.

Some members of the city’s water and fire departments are heading to Texas next week for a foam summit that will discuss PFAS contamination. Borchers says he hopes they will come back with some new ideas.

*Follow WFDD’s Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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