This is a developing story. It will be updated as more information becomes available.
The NC Department of Environmental Quality will get $1.3 million in one-time money to address emerging contaminants like GenX, in drinking water, according to a new draft version of the House Bill 189 obtained by Policy Watch.
The bill is expected to be introduced at tomorrow’s special session in the House Environment Committee, which meets at 1 p.m. in Room 423 of the Legislative Office Building.
Even more surprising is where most of the funds are coming from: They are being reallocated from money that was originally slated to pay the private company SePro to put algae-killing chemicals in Jordan Lake, a drinking water reservoir for more than 300,000 people.
The US Army Corps of Engineers disapproved of the SePro proposal last month, essentially ending the experiment before it started.
The breakdown of the money is as follows:
- $813,000 to the Division of Water Resources for time-limited positions and operations support of water quality sampling related to GenX and other emerging contaminants and to address permitting backlogs.
- $232,950 to the Division of Air Quality for sampling and analysis of atmospheric deposition of GenX and other emerging contaminants.
- $279,050 to the Division of Waste Management for sampling and analysis of GenX and other 44 emerging contaminants in groundwater wells, soil, and sediment.
Funds reallocated by this section will remain available for nonrecurring expenses, including the establishment of time-limited positions, through June 30, 2019.
At a recent House River Quality committee meetings, several members of the public commented that DEQ needs more money to carry out the other requirements of the bill: Studying the wastewater permitting process and reporting protocols, as well as sharing data and information with nearby states.
While this looks hopeful for funding DEQ’s extra workload, the Senate has to pass the bill for it to reach Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk. The Senate has been debriefed on an earlier version of the bill, and presumably this edition, but it could decide to negotiate the bill’s terms or vote it down altogether. However, Sen. Mike Lee, a Republican from New Hanover County, could leave himself vulnerable to losing re-election if he opts to vote against the bill. Former Wilmington Mayor Harper Peterson, who is running against Lee, has been an outspoken proponent of not only stricter regulations on wastewater discharge, but also funding for DEQ to address the crisis.