H2GO Receives NPDES Permit for Reverse Osmosis (RO) Water Treatment Plant

In January, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) held a public hearing at the Leland Cultural Arts Center in Magnolia Greens to allow H2GO customers the opportunity to speak on why they believed H2GO should or should not be issued an NPDES wastewater discharge permit for the proposed reverse osmosis (RO) water treatment plant. The hearing consisted of 21 speakers with thirteen for, seven against and one neutral. The DEQ hearing officers then spent the following months reviewing all public comments and letters received to determine if issuing the permit was warranted.

On May 8, the final NPDES permit was issued to H2GO with the hearing officer stating, “Based on the review of the public record, written and oral public comments, the North Carolina General Statutes and Administrative Code, and discussions with other Division of Water Resources (DWR) staff, I recommend to the Division Director that the draft NPDES permit for the Brunswick Regional Water and Sewer H2GO Water Treatment Plant be modified and issued…”.  The primary permit modification includes a provision to implement a one-year supplemental monitoring program, to be coordinated with the UNCW Center for Marine Science, to verify mixing and dilution predictions established to ensure environmental protection of the river. 

In early 2016, H2GO completed RO pilot plant studies and submitted their results to the DWR.  One phase of the RO pilot plant study was to characterize both finished water quality and effluent discharge concentrations expected from full-scale plant operations. With the RO pilot plant results, independent labs performed analyses on sampled effluent concentrations using EPA approved methods to assess  potential impacts on the Brunswick River and aquatic life, results of which came back favorably. Additional lab tests were also performed with mysid shrimp to determine potential discharge toxicity, which also showed zero detrimental effects.

When asked about the final NPDES permit issuance, Bob Walker, Executive Director for H2GO stated, “The NPDES permit application and approval is based on projected impacts to the receiving stream and a determination that the discharge is acceptable under NCDEQ rules.  H2GO is pleased that DEQ’s Division of Water Resources has determined that the proposed discharge from the new RO water treatment plant will have no detrimental impacts to the Brunswick River”. 

With the issuance of the final NPDES permit, H2GO has awarded the first 2 of 5 construction contracts for the planned 4.0 MGD reverse osmosis water treatment project.  With 2 contracts awarded for less than $3,350,000, H2GO is $650,000 under budget to-date.  The RO water treatment plant is expected to be operational in early 2019, producing high quality finished water for H2GO customers.  The overall project cost is estimated to be less than $30M and will not affect customer’s water rates.