Local News

Wendell, Zebulon May Soon Join Raleigh's Water System

Posted July 7, 2006

— Thousands of new customers could soon tap into Raleigh's water supply. With the recent rain, there's enough to go around right now, but some worry about two towns being permanently added to the system.

While some see the glass as half-empty, others see it as half-full. Raleigh City Manager Russell Allen said merging Wendell and Zebulon's water systems with Raleigh is a good deal for the city and all its customers.

"Everyone's rates are going to go up as we build larger facilities, but if you have a larger customer base, you can spread that more evenly across," said Raleigh City Manager Russell Allen.

Right now, the two towns contract water from Raleigh. The proposal is to make the systems one.

Wake Forest, Garner, Rolesville and Knightdale have already merged with Raleigh. With new homes going up every day, the amount of water customers continues to grow, and that's what has critics of the merger concerned.

With two droughts in four years, Raleigh City Council Member Philip Isley said he thinks Raleigh is spreading itself too thin.

"I'd rather have the water, frankly, than making enormous profits and take the water out of the pool that we really need," said Isley.

Allen said under normal conditions, there isn't a problem with water supply.

"The drought was a 100-year drought," he said.

Allen also pointed out that Raleigh's water source, Falls Lake, is not a city lake, but a regional lake for everyone's use.

Smaller towns say increased regulations make it too expensive to run their own systems. In Garner, for example, hooking up with Raleigh will eventually save customers up to 60 percent on their water bills.

"That's a huge decrease from what it is now," said Garner resident Chris Creech.

Tapping into the taps is a debate not likely to dry up anytime soon.

"We need to be mindful," said Isley. "We have a precious resource, and selling it right now is a bad idea."

The final vote is expected from the Raleigh City Council on Tuesday. If passed, the mergers would take effect on Oct. 2.

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