Brunswick County Commissioners Move Forward with Advanced Water Treatment and Capacity Expansion Project

12.17.2018

The Brunswick County Board of Commissioners Monday night approved the engagement of several firms needed to meet legal requirements to issue debt, as Brunswick County continues to move forward with advanced water treatment methods and expanded capacity at the Northwest Water Treatment Plant.

Brunswick County plans to increase the water capacity at the Northwest Water Treatment Plant by 12 million gallons per day and add low-pressure reverse osmosis treatment at the plant to address new and emerging compounds, in addition to other improvements to the water and wastewater systems. In order to issue debt to fund this project, the County must engage a bond counsel and provide the Local Government Commission with an independent analysis of the county’s financial ability to incur the debt; if revenue bonds are issued, an underwriter is also required to market the debt.

In 2017, Brunswick County filed a lawsuit against Chemours and DuPont, seeking damages including recovering the cost of advanced water treatment methods to ensure that that cost falls upon those who dumped the unregulated chemicals in the water and not on rate payers. That lawsuit remains active and ongoing.

Meanwhile, Brunswick County continues to make progress toward securing an NPDES permit for discharge of concentrate from the planned low-pressure reverse osmosis facility at the Northwest Water Treatment Plant. The application was submitted to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) Division of Water Resources on Nov. 8, 2018. NCDEQ is in the process of reviewing the application and providing comments. Brunswick County and its firm hired to research and review data, CDM Smith, will continue to provide responses.

The next step in the process is preparation and publication of the draft NPDES permit. Once the initial comments are addressed, Brunswick County will receive a draft of the permit. The draft will also be available to state and federal review agencies – such as Fish and Wildlife – that may also comment. A public notification and comment period will occur at the same time as the agency reviews. Public notification of the 30-day comment period will be posted on DEQ’s website and in the newspaper, as well as on the County’s website (www.brunswickcountync.gov). Depending on the significance of the comments (as determined by NCDEQ), the final permit is expected to be issued within 2 to 4 months of the comment period.

Guidance provided by NC DEQ suggests new NPDES permit applications should be submitted at least 6 months ahead of the need for the permit. Brunswick County submitted the application 9 months ahead of the date the permit is required. The County has also participated in multiple meetings with NC DEQ to discuss the permit with positive feedback received at each meeting.