Greensboro is getting ready to take the next step in a project that will help reduce PFAS contamination in its drinking water supply. Pilot testing will begin next month at the Mitchell Water plant.

The city is among several North Carolina communities dealing with what are known as forever chemicals in its watershed.

Officials say most of the compounds are coming from contaminated surface waters near the industrial complex around Piedmont Triad International Airport. The chemicals are used in firefighting foams and in various manufacturing processes.

There are thousands of PFAS in the environment, but some of the biggest concerns for Greensboro are PFOS and PFOA. City leaders invested in short-term solutions, like a powder-activated carbon treatment at the Mitchell Plant.

Greensboro's long-term goal is to expand that facility. Land has been acquired near the site and apartments and buildings that were there have been demolished. The estimated cost for the upgrade is around $35 million.

Michael Borchers, the Director of Greensboro's Water Resources Department, says pilot testing at the Mitchell plant starts in September.

“This ultimately determines what is the best technology moving forward and our whole design will revolve around that technology that we chose, so this is absolutely critical," he says. "So think of it as the heart of the plant.”

Borchers says the new technologies will allow them to adapt to potential federal safety limits for drinking water, which are currently being reviewed.  If the process goes as planned, the expansion at the Mitchell facility will be completed in late 2025 or 2026.

Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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