The Carolina Public Press reported that Cumberland County is seeking a drinking water reserve and wastewater reserve grant to build a new water system to address GenX contaminated wells. The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners officially decided to move forward with the application last week.
The two part, federally funded grant is part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and will be distributed first in the spring and then in the fall. Selected applicants will be chosen by the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).
Cumberland County hopes to obtain the money to help build a $15 million dollar water distribution system at Gray’s Creek, in the southern part of the county. This distribution system will serve disadvantaged and underserved communities, allowing them to connect their residencial wells to different water systems. Water sampling from DEQ has indicated that many wells in Gray’s Creek have been contaminated with an unregulated substance commonly known as GenX, produced by the neighboring Chemours plant.
The Carolina Public Press reported that Cumberland County has sued Chemours and its predecessor, Dupont, for allegedly releasing millions of pounds of PFAS in the air above their Fayetteville Works facility during the 1970’s and beyond.
Cumberland County has until May 2 to apply for the state grant. The alternatives for the county if the grant application is not accepted by DEQ will be to reapply for the next round of funding in the fall or ask for a low-interest state loan to supplement the necessary funding needed for the project.
DEQ has also said that if any funds remain after both cycles of applications are completed, the agency will distribute the remaining funds in order of priority. The agency will distribute the funding in increments of $5 million to accepted applicants until all of the money is spent.