The Guilford County Board of Commissioners is jumping in to help the City of Greensboro with a contamination issue in the city’s water supply. In response to concerns over contaminants known as Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS’s), the county’s health department is implementing a multi stage plan to address water quality concerns in the area around Piedmont Triad International Airport.

The Guilford County Board of Commissioners also serves as the county’s health board and, in that capacity, at a work session on Thursday, Nov. 15, the commissioners addressed the issue. The board has never discussed city water matters – in this century at least – because Greensboro usually handles those with no county input.

The City of Greensboro has very high quality water; however, in recent years the city has been doing battle with the PFAS’s, which medical studies have associated with decreased fertility, low birth weights, liver damage and hyperthyroidism. Tests have shown the airport area has a higher than acceptable concentration of PFAS’s – likely due in part to large petroleum storage tanks near the airport and the use of firefighting foams at Piedmont Triad International Airport.

To address the concerns in that area, the county is holding a community meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 4 – location to be announced later – to inform residents and get input, and the health department will be testing well water samples from selected homes in areas of concern.

Guilford County Health Director Merle Green said that, based on those findings, the health department, working with city water officials, will decide the best course of corrective action.

Steve Drew, the director of Water Resources for the City of Greensboro, told the commissioners that the contaminant was originally detected in 2014 and three of four quarterly samples later came in above the limit.

“These are bad actors that are in the environment,” he said.

Drew said the city did what it was required to do and took additional steps on top of those. They notified the state and citizens of the issue and have engaged in filtration efforts targeted at PFAS’s.