Pittsboro residents are trying to find ways to protect their drinking water supply after high levels of 1,4 dioxane and PFAS have been detected in the Haw River. A local task force just released a set of recommendations to town officials.

The Water Quality Task Force was created by Pittsboro commissioners last year. It's composed of several community leaders and experts.

Their suggestions include providing subsidized programs for low-income residents to install reverse osmosis systems under their sinks, and providing these filtration systems on a larger scale for schools and health care systems.

Haw Riverkeeper Emily Sutton says these would be used in water fountains and water bottle fill stations.

"We want to know that our water is safe for immune-compromised people that are in health care centers already, and for kids who are filling their water bottles three to five times a day,” says Sutton.

The town of Pittsboro is also conducting a pilot study to test different filtration methods for removing PFAS and other chemicals at its water treatment plant.

A recent study from Duke University collected blood and tap water samples from 49 Pittsboro residents. It found that their blood levels of PFAS were two to four times higher than the general U.S. population.

Sutton says the Haw River Assembly is partnering with researchers from N.C. State University to conduct another local study in the coming months.

They're also trying to find out more about the sources of water contamination in the river. 

Last year, the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of the Haw River Assembly filed a notice of intent to sue the city of Burlington. In October, they reached an agreement with the city and entered into a memorandum of understanding to try to pinpoint which industries are responsible for discharging the chemicals that are going into that wastewater system.

Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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