Post-Hurricane Florence Water Quality FAQ


Has hog waste, chicken waste or turkey waste from holding ponds on farms/CAFOs gotten into the river and into our drinking water? What about contamination from dead animals in flood zones?

 
The livestock flooding has been and continues to be a regular occurrence even without the extreme flooding.  Brunswick County’s Northwest Water Treatment Plant monitors the raw water hourly for several constituents to keep track of water quality changes. One basic test is TOC or total organic carbon. As the TOC increases in the river due to contaminants (like livestock waste), Brunswick County increases our chemical feeds to match. We may also start adding powdered activated carbon to adsorb contaminants and settle them out. Another chemical in our arsenal is chlorine dioxide, a strong oxidant and disinfectant that we feed in multiple places through the treatment process to stop and destroy bacteria and viruses like pathogenic coliforms, cryptosporidium and giardia.

Brunswick County Public Utilities assumes these contaminants are already there, due to the delay that would result in sending samples to a laboratory and waiting for results, and treats the water in anticipation of having those contaminants present. This typically means the water is over-treated the majority of the time. In post-hurricane flood waters, we have systems in place to ensure that the water is bacterially inactivated and safe to drink, whether it is municipal waste water flowing down the river or livestock waste.


Has wastewater/sewage gotten into the drinking water due to flooding or failures of wastewater treatment plants?
Brunswick County Public Utilities assumes these contaminants are already there, due to the delay that would result in sending samples to a laboratory and waiting for results, and treats the water in anticipation of having those contaminants present. This typically means the water is over-treated the majority of the time. In post-hurricane flood waters, we have systems in place to ensure that the water is bacterially inactivated and safe to drink, whether it is municipal waste water flowing down the river or livestock waste.


Has coal ash gotten into the river, and into our drinking water? Have any of the Duke Energy coal ash retention ponds breached?
The coal ash retention pond mentioned in media reports recently is downriver of where Brunswick County gets its raw drinking water, and thus is not a factor in our water treatment process.

There is only one other coal ash impoundment in our river basin, at the Cape Fear Steam Plant in Moncure, NC. At the moment, there has not been a reported breach at that facility. Water levels have dropped significantly in that portion of our river basin, and officials suspect that the threat of a breach there has been reduced as the flood waters have been retreating at that location.