PWC & Cumberland County Form Partnership to Provide Drinking Water to Gray’s Creek

PWC CEO Timothy Bryant

On Apr. 12, 2024, PWC and Cumberland County announced a partnership to expand PWC’s current water system to provide drinking water to the Gray’s Creek Water and Sewer District.  This partnership will help address the widespread GenX contamination of groundwater throughout the county.

The collaboration underscores a commitment from both organizations to safeguarding public health and strengthening community well-being.

“Today is truly a monumental day in the history of Cumberland County,” said Board of Commissioners Chairman Glenn Adams. “While this problem was not created by the County, the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners has been committed since the beginning to addressing this issue for our citizens – who deserve access to regulated, reliable, safe drinking water.”

Cumberland County’s efforts to address the GenX contamination have focused on developing deep wells, treatment facilities, and distribution lines in Gray’s Creek. However, the commissioners have determined it is in the best interest of residents to change the scope of the project and partner with PWC to expand the utility’s current water system to provide source water and service to the Gray’s Creek District.

“Since forever chemicals were first discovered in the Cape Fear River, PWC has been at the forefront of treatment options and continued advocacy to prevent contaminants like GenX from being discharged into our source water,” said PWC CEO Timothy Bryant.  “That commitment has not changed.  All citizens deserve high quality water to drink, and we are proud to partner with the County to provide that valuable resource to Gray’s Creek as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.” 

PWC and the County will work together to plan for, seek funding for, develop a schedule, and implement the installation of water system infrastructure, starting with service to the Gray’s Creek and Alderman Road Elementary Schools.  The General Assembly appropriated $12 million to PWC to design and build water to the two schools.

The plan to get water to the schools as soon as possible is to make use of existing preliminary design work. To expedite the project, PWC will utilize/revise  an existing design from 2021.  Once installed, PWC will provide quality drinking water in keeping with the high standards set by the Partnership for Safe Water and all other requirements set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The County plans to utilize American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to help extend the water system to other areas within the Gray’s Creek Water and Sewer District and will work with residents within the district to find funding for connection fees.  With the shared responsibility of this project with Cumberland County, this should have no impact on existing PWC customers.

“My fellow PWC Commissioners and I are proud to be able to help PWC and the County form this partnership for the benefit of our citizens,” said PWC Commission Chair Donald Porter.  “Our Gray’s Creek community deserves access to high quality drinking water and together we can get the job done.”

PWC was the first utility in North Carolina to be recognized with the Partnership for Safe Drinking Water’s Director’s Award for treatment efforts that exceed US EPA requirements and have maintained  those standards for 23 consecutive years. 

This announcement comes just two days after the EPA was at PWC’s P.O. Hoffer Water Treatment Facility to announce new national drinking water standards to address forever chemicals like GenX in drinking water.  New standards became effective April 10, 2024. PWC is currently upgrading its two drinking water treatment facilities to add Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) filtration that will enable PWC to continue providing drinking water that meets or exceeds EPA standards.