Public Notice

Public Notice

Brunswick County statement in response to Environmental Working Group January 2020 report

01.22.2020

Brunswick County began an extensive testing program for PFAS contaminants when academic studies revealed the presence of multiple PFAS in its drinking water, testing a suite of PFAS contaminants on a weekly basis. Brunswick County’s water samples have continuously remained below the EPA’s established health advisory levels for PFOA + PFOS and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ established provisional health goal for GenX, however the combined levels of all PFAS is concerning and the County continues to test and monitor for most known PFAS compounds and GenX during its routine testing.

At this time, the EPA does not have an established health goal for several of the other compounds listed in this report that are contributing to the overall 185.9 ppt sample level, however the PFOA + PFOS and GenX sample levels in this report are also below the provisional health goals mentioned above. Due to the fact that little or no study has been done on the health effects of combined PFAS or many of these individual PFAS found in the source water, Brunswick County has taken a proactive approach to install the most protective water treatment system at the Northwest Water Treatment Plant to remove these contaminants.

Brunswick County’s leadership recognizes that high quality water is of paramount importance to our customers and residents and agree that reverse osmosis is the most effective PFAS removal technology, which is why the Board of Commissioners and county administration are embarking on a project to install an advanced low-pressure reverse osmosis treatment system at the Northwest Water Treatment Plant, as well as increase capacity at the plant to support the county’s growth. Brunswick County Public Utilities has been working diligently with engineers at CDM-Smith and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality to design, permit and build an economical low-pressure reverse osmosis system at the plant for the benefit of all Brunswick County water users.

Low-pressure reverse osmosis is considered one of the most advanced and effective methods to treat and remove both regulated and unregulated materials from drinking water, including GenX, 1,4-dioxane and other per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). In April 2018, the County conducted two rounds of testing on a pilot low-pressure reverse osmosis system at the Northwest Water Treatment Plant. The results showed that low-pressure reverse osmosis reduced most PFAS including GenX to undetectable levels, essentially removing all the components.

Not only do pilot studies indicate that low-pressure reverse osmosis is the most effective advanced treatment method for PFAS removal, but they also indicate that it is the most economical advanced treatment option for the removal of high percentages of PFAS at the Northwest Water Treatment Plant. Most previous studies focus on the high-energy cost when using reverse osmosis for the treatment of saline or brackish water, but the cost is considerably less when used to treat fresh water for PFAS contaminants, especially short-chain PFAS.

All of the County’s water sample test reports are available to the public at https://www.brunswickcountync.gov/genx/

Brunswick County would notify customers and residents should any of its test samples exceed the health advisory levels established for PFOA + PFOS or GenX.

Commissioner Pat Sykes

Commissioner Sykes

Commissioner Pat Sykes

Patricia Sykes is a Brunswick County native currently residing in Southport.  After graduating from Southport High School, she worked for 32 years in various positions in government agencies: five years in management at the Internal Revenue Service; twenty five years in various other assignments at the Internal Revenue Service, United States Attorney’s Office, Military Ocean Terminal, Sunny Point, and several years in local government at Brunswick County, the Brunswick County School system and the Town of Long Beach (Oak Island) where she also served as a volunteer member of the Rescue Squad/Fire Department.  Pat and her husband Clarence had a small welding business for over 25 years, Sykes Portable Welding & Repair and are still members of the Southport-Oak Island Chamber of Commerce.  They have been married for 46 years, have one son, daughter in-law and one grandson.

Sworn in December 2016 (second term)

Term Expires in 2020

Professional Position: Retired – with 32 years with the Federal Government in various agencies. Five years in management at the Internal Revenue Service; twenty-five years in various other assignments, United States Attorney’s Office and Military Ocean Terminal, Sunny Point.

Local Government – Brunswick County Schools, Brunswick County and Town of Long Beach (now Oak-Island)

Professional Affiliations: Past business Owner of Sykes Portable Welding & Repair for over 25 years.

Boards/Committees Commissioner Sykes Serves On
  • Brunswick County Health & Human Services Advisory Board
  • Trillium Health – Southern Regional Advisory Board
  • Grand Strand Transportation Advisory Committee (MPO)
  • North Carolina Association of County Commissioners
    • Health & Human Services
  • National Association of County Commissioners:
    • Justice and Public Safety Committee
    • Sub-Committee – Homeland Security Vice Chair
    • Veterans and Military Services Committee
  • National Association of Counties
    • Immigration Reform Task Force
Other and Former Board Associations
  • Brunswick County Board of Commissioners, served as Vice-Chair 2015
  • Department of Social Services Board
  • Juvenile Crime Prevention Council
  • Brunswick County Fire Commission, Vice-Chair
  • Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Board (MPO)
  • Cape Fear Area Rural Planning Organization (RPO)
  • Brunswick County Community College Liaison Committee
  • Brunswick County Republican Party Executive Committee
  • Treasurer for Brunswick County Republican Women
  • Volunteered at Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office – 2011
  • Volunteered at Brunswick Senior Resources – 2010
  • Past Chairman of the Southport-Oak Island Boy Scouts Leadership Breakfast Committee
  • Southport Lions Club Member
  • Member, Southport Oak-Island Chamber of Commerce
  • Sunday School Teacher, Choir Member, Children’s Church and Vacation Bible School Director

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