Residents of Flemington, a small community located off of U.S. 421, will soon be connected to New Hanover County’s main water system. Officials from Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, or CFPUA, say they'll construct a new connective water pipeline this year. This is because groundwater containing coal ash slurry from Duke Progress Energy’s Sutton Plant has been slowly seeping toward Flemington’s current drinking wells. The CFPUA held a public meeting to discuss the pipeline Tuesday night, but fewer than five private citizens attended—and none made public comments.
The new pipeline will stretch beneath the Cape Fear River to connect Flemington to the same water treatment plant supplying Wilmington's water. Jim Flechtner, executive director of CFPUA, says the Authority held the meeting to ensure people that a long-term plan is in place to bring Flemington reliable water.
"We’re not expecting a lot of backlash. We have very good plan in place, and I think people see that. It’s just a matter of getting the pipe in the ground and getting them switched from groundwater to surface water."
Phil Sandlin, a retiree who’s called Flemington home since 1957, says most of his neighbors rent rather than own homes—which could explain their lack of involvement in the process. Sandlin says he came to make sure the new pipeline wouldn’t cost his community money.
"Now we’ve gotta wait to years to get a water line put in, and the pollution’s still moving out of the ash ponds. But hopefully, we’ll save some people’s lives by not drinking contaminated water or anything."
Officials say the project will take up to two years, and they'll hold another public meeting shortly before they begin construction. In the meantime, Flechtner says Duke will continue to monitor the wells' safety.