1,4-Dioxane levels in Haw River start to decrease

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PITTSBORO — Town staff are encouraged by the most recent results from water samples taken from the Haw River following the Nov. 3 1,4-Dioxane discharge from Greensboro. 

Recent lab results show concentrations of 1,4-Dioxane decreasing in the water directly from the river from the Nov. 17 spike of over 80 parts per billion, more than double the EPA recommended threshold. Raw water samples from Nov. 18 and Nov. 19 show 50.5 parts per billion and 34.1 parts per billion, respectively. However, treated water at Pittsboro’s treatment plant is still above the EPA recommended threshold, with recent numbers showing 46.3 parts per billion and 49.8 parts per billion on Nov. 18 and Nov. 19. 

Town Manager Chris Kennedy said in a release on Tuesday the decreasing numbers in the Haw River are encouraging and suggest a potential end to the crisis. 

“While this is far from non-detect, this is a welcomed improvement as compared to the highest levels of this excessive discharge event that peaked on Nov. 17,” he wrote. 

Kennedy said, however, elements of 1,4-Dioxane have still been able to trickle into the town’s water system and storage tanks, indicated by the still elevated numbers in those water samples. 

“The town is encouraged by the lessening of the concentration levels in the raw water but recognizes that the elevated concentration levels from the raw water has contaminated our tanks and overall distribution system,” he said. “Town staff continues to work to keep concentration levels in our tanks and water mains as low as possible while only drawing from the Haw River when absolutely necessary.”

Kennedy said town staff are going to continue to take samples from the water and send them off for testing until the risk has passed. 

Pittsboro residents can receive water treated by reverse osmosis — which is used to treat water for 1,4-Dioxane and other pollutants — at BMC Brewing, according to owners John and Carmen Rice, located at The Plant at 213 Lorax Lane in Pittsboro. 

Reporter Taylor Heeden can be reached at theeden@chathamnr.com.

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