If you have been paying attention to the news, you haven't escaped the recent story about an emerging contaminant being discovered in the Cape Fear River and in our drinking water.
The contaminant is known as GenX, a chemical produced by a company named Chemours and used in making Teflon for non-stick pans. Teflon is also used in nail polish, windshield wiper blades, carpet protection and clothing like Gore-Tex. Teflon used to be produced with a chemical called C8, but C8 was discovered to be toxic. GenX is the replacement product, and we don't know much about it yet. As a result, there are no standards (allowable levels) for this chemical. This is why GenX is classified by the EPA as an emerging contaminant. We don't know enough about it yet to have regulations in place.
More reading here, and here. Note that the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority has known about this for many months.
Listen to an interview with Dr. Larry Cahoon of UNCW here.
Here is a map of the area where CFPUA distributes public water from the Cape Fear (notice that our campus is right in the middle of it).
How would we analyze this issue using the tools from our course?
Could we do a cost-benefit analysis of some sort?
Perhaps a valuation study?