New investments of $29 million improve Chatham water quality
Funding from the Democratic-led American Rescue Plan Act and other sources are helping to clean contamination of drinking water supplies across Chatham County.
Water pollution, especially in Pittsboro, has been a long-standing problem. But funds supplied by Congress at the urging of President Joe Biden are already improving water quality.
The funding, which was announced earlier this year, was provided in large part by the American Rescue Plan Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, both passed by Democratic majorities in Congress in 2021.
Rep. Robert Reives, who represents Chatham County in the N.C. House and serves as its Democratic leader, told the Chatham News + Record that the projects will serve current residents and new businesses.
“Chatham and Randolph are growing quickly — as fast as any other part of our state,” Reives told the paper. “With that growth, we need to make investments in our water and sewer infrastructure in order to continue serving both residents and new businesses. I am glad to see this money coming into our communities to ensure clean water is available for every resident, and so that we keep pace with the needs of new industries locating here.”
With an investment of $28.4 million, the largest project is for water and wastewater treatment facilities in Pittsboro.
Pittsboro has suffered from ongoing pollution of the Haw River, the current source for the town’s drinking water. The town received $17.9 million for two drinking water projects: $5.7 million for additional PFAS treatment facilities and $12.2 million for UV-OP treatment facilities.
Pittsboro has put into operation a granular activated carbon filtration system that is removing nearly 100% of the PFAS chemicals found in the town's drinking water.
Pittsboro Town Commissioner John Bonitz was delighted with the news.
“We have made headlines repeatedly for some of the worst water quality in the nation,” Bonitz told Spectrum News. “And I am just so pleased that here we are on the first anniversary of the new GAC filter, and we can proudly say that we have the cleanest utility scale drinking water in Chatham County.”
Pittsboro also received $10.5 million for a wastewater transmission system improvement project converting the wastewater treatment plant into a pump station to send wastewater to Sanford for treatment.
Also, Siler City received $900,00 for two projects: $500,000 for stormwater utility and another $400,000 for its sewer system. Town Manager Hank Raper told The Chatham News + Record that most of the funds would be used for engineering studies to develop strategic plans to tackle issues brought by coming growth.
In Randolph County, the town of Liberty received $12.9 million for two water treatment projects, the paper reported.
Sue Blalock, chair of the Chatham County Democratic Party, said the projects and the funding that supports them are strong evidence that Democrats are working to improve our communities.
“Democrats work hard to support the needs of families and communities across North Carolina and beyond,” she said. “Water quality and environmental protection are important contributors to healthy vibrant communities, and Democrats work to build projects to serve those needs.”
Learn more about the projects here and here.
By Michael Hobbs