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Cumberland County and Fayetteville PWC announce a memorandum of understanding to expand PWC’s water services into Gray’s Creek

By Faith Hatton, posted 1 month ago
From left to right: Cumberland Count Manager Clarence Grier, County Commissioner Chairman Glenn Adams and PWC CEO Tim Bryant. 

Officials with Cumberland County and the Fayetteville Public Works Commission gathered in front of Gray’s Creek Elementary school to announce that the two had entered into a memorandum of understanding with the intention to expand PWC’s water services into Gray’s Creek. 

As part of this agreement, PWC will expand its current water system to provide source water and service to the entire Gray’s Creek water and sewer district, a decision that will impact an estimated 75,000 residents. 

“We believe this collaboration is in the best interest of county residents and that by combining our resources, we will be able to do this far more quickly than we could do it individually,” shared Cumberland County Board of Commissioners Chairman Glenn Adams. “This is  only the beginning, but in the coming months we will share more information and engage our residents so they'll have the information and what they need about what this means to them and how they can participate.” 

Gray’s Creek, which has been facing the impact of their water sources being heavily contaminated with PFAS pollution from a nearby Chemours manufacturing facility, will have another option to have water provided to them by PWC following the conclusion of the expansion. Phase I of the plans will bring water to Gray’s Creek Elementary School, Alderman Road Elementary School and the immediate surrounding area. 

“Today's announcement of this partnership between the Cumberland County Board of County Commissioners and the Public Work Commission to bring safe drinking water to the Gray's Creek water and sewer District is a really critical step to advancing the health of our city and of our citizens in Cumberland County and specifically in Gray’s Creek,” said  Cumberland County Public Health Director Dr. Jennifer Green. “This partnership will bring a water supply that's permanent, regulated and safe to address the presence of Gen X in private water drinking wells. Importantly, this program, this project and this partnership supplies water to our most vulnerable citizens at our elementary school students here at Gray’s Creek Elementary and Alderman Road Elementary schools.” 

At the time of the announcement, several factors remain undetermined such as whether those in the Gray's Creek area will pay “In City” or “Out of City” rates, and an estimated completion date for the project. 

According to PWC CEO Tim Bryant, the total price tag attached to Phase I of this project is $100 million and work is expected to begin next week. 

A total of $12 million in state funding has been approved to help fund the project and other funds such as money allocated from the Biden- Harris administration, grants and other sources are being considered. 

“Collaboration is key, not only collaboration among us and for our citizens to see that collaboration, but for our state delegation, for our federal delegation, and obviously for our customers to see that we're working together to solve this problem,” shared Bryant. “We have all hands on deck at PWC, the county, state and federal delegation to wring our hands of that multiple millions of dollars to close the gap because we have about $40 to $50 million in hand right now between the ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds and PWC funds from the General Assembly, but clearly that's not going to be enough. We're going to keep working day in and day out until we get there.” 

This announcement comes on the heels a visit by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan and the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality Brenda Mallory and other state and local officials on Wednesday announced the first ever national, legally enforceable drinking water standard to protect communities from exposure to harmful per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as forever chemicals.

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