The State House unanimously voted Wednesday to approve more than $2 million in funding to address GenX in the state’s water, air and soil.
House Bill 189, passed in a 116-0 vote, appropriates money for the monitoring of GenX, and other contaminants, among other things related to the perflourinated compound discovered in discharge water from Chemours’ Fayetteville Works facility in the Cape Fear region.
House leaders say that the legislation came out of a series of public hearings and collaboration between the legislature and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).
The legislation will fund equipment, as well as staff, to help monitor and better detect contaminants in pursuit of improved water quality in the state.
“The House’s water quality legislation modifies state policy and purchases important machinery to ensure the safety of citizens and the accountability of companies in North Carolina,” House Speaker Rep. Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) said. “This proposal is a result of a thorough oversight committee process and bipartisan collaboration. It is a significant step to protect our state’s drinking water.”
The bill allocates $1.3 million from a program within DEQ to study new ways to manage pollutants in Jordan Lake and Falls Lake that was written into the current budget.
The bill would also, if approved in the Senate, appropriate $25,000 that was originally earmarked to go to the town of Stedman in Cumberland County to fix the Town Hall after a tree fell on it.
The local Stedman government no longer needed the $25,000 after the town’s insurance company ended up covering all of the damage from the tree.
From the $1.3 million, $813,000 would be used to hire staff at the Division of Water Resources for water quality sampling for GenX and other contaminants, and to address backlogs in issuing permits. An amount of $232,950 would be used at the Division of Air Quality for sampling and analysis of atmospheric deposition of GenX and other contaminants, and $279,050 would be used by the Division of Waste Management for sampling and analysis of GenX and other contaminants in groundwater wells, soil and sediment.
Roughly $1 million would also be appropriated from the remaining balance of the General Fund and the state Contingency and Emergency Fund to DEQ to purchase new equipment needed to better evaluate the threat to public safety GenX may pose as well as being able to more efficiently sample and test to track GenX.
The bill also requires a comprehensive review of the state’s permit disclosure requirements and seeks recommendations to ensure full transparency in the permitting process.
“We conducted a thorough process of committee deliberations and bill drafting in the House to get this right and remove politics from the conversation,” Rep. Frank Iler (R-Brunswick) said.
Iler co-chairs the House Select Committee on North Carolina River Quality.
The proposal also requires that North Carolina maintain communication with neighboring states in monitoring the flow of contaminants across borders.
The bill requires DEQ to share information with its counterpart organizations in Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.
“The state House built a solid foundation from which to proceed and protect our citizens’ drinking water now and decades into the future,” Rep. John Szoka (R-Cumberland) said.
Szoka represents a portion of the Cape Fear River basin.
Now the legislation goes to the Senate for consideration.