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Drought Spurs Fight Over Water Sources

Posted August 20, 2007

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— As drought lingers and population numbers rise, water has become a precious commodity over which three Triangle communities are competing.

A dispute over water from the Neuse River between Franklin County and Raleigh has caught Wake Forest in the middle.

The City of Raleigh opposes Franklin County's' plan to use the old Burlington Mills plant to draw water from the Neuse River.

The county needs to develop new resources as it grows in order to provide adequate water service to new customers, Bryce Mendenhall, director of Franklin County Public Utilities, said.

"Certainly, we're not trying to get behind the eight-ball, per se, but (we're) also looking for valid resources," Mendenhall said. "And, certainly, the Neuse River is a valid resource."

Raleigh officials said taking water from the Neuse River will lower levels in Falls Lake, which serves as the city's primary reservoir. Falls Lake's water level is 65 percent lower than normal, and the lake is draining at an extremely rapid pace, city officials said.

"We actually don't want anyone to use it. It's not just Franklin County," Dale Crisp, director of Raleigh's Public Utilities, said.

Wake Forest town planners said they're closely watching the water fight between Raleigh and Franklin County. The town buys its water from Raleigh but wants to annex land in Franklin County.

Raleigh, however, is refusing to provide water to the newly annexed land until Franklin County gives up its plans to tap the Neuse River, Crisp said.

The City of Raleigh wants "Franklin County to withdraw their letter of intent to use the Neuse as a future water supply source," Crisp said.

Franklin County officials said acquiescing to that demand would hurt the county's ability to handle its own growth.

"You'd hate to see anybody stand in the way of us looking for the common good of the people moving in here," Mendenhall said.

The three sides will meet next month to discuss the issue, but the state will make the final decision on which communities can use the Neuse River as a water source, Crisp said.


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  • ArkAngels Aug 21, 2007

    This is the gist of the story. Franklin County has built, built, built with no infastructure to support what they have built. Now they are looking to Wake Forest to bail them out so they can provide what they have promised they could deliver.

    Everyone that lives in the southern part of Franklin County knows that there is no infastructure here to support all of this growth. Yet the county thinks there is and keeps on building and promising resources it does not have to give.

    Franklin County wants Wake Forest to annex this property just so it can have access to that 6 million gallons of water a day from Burlington Mills.

    How long do you think Falls Lake will last at that rate? If you have not driven by there lately to look at Falls Lake, you owe it to yourself to look at your dwindling water supply.

  • olddude Aug 21, 2007

    Nothing New, I agree. Urban growth has got to be brought under control. Water is one of our most precious commodities and is fast becoming one of the most expensive. If we, as responsible citizens, don't start demanding changes as to how run away growth is being allowed to put further stress on our fragile infrastructure, we will pay a very dear price in the not too distant future.

  • OpinionOnEverything Aug 20, 2007

    Whether it's well water or reservoir water, too much growth and our need for lush green lawns has got to stop. The upside with NC's liberal annexation laws is the fact that sewage is treated and water recycled back to homes. The downside is that developers love annexation, because it creates more demand for their product on dense lots, and thus more demand for water. I say Wake Forest is causing the problem here by approving another big subdivision that will get city water if it gets annexed. Franklin is just trying to maintain service for its mainly rural residents, while giving them the ability to absorb some of the spillover growth from Wake.

  • OpinionOnEverything Aug 20, 2007

    The easiest answer is to just let "God's grass" grow when He decides it's important to Him.....

    ....or you can just plant the Bermuda grass like me and watch it spread out all over my concrete driveway! :))

  • drnc Aug 20, 2007

    I have a well. I don't want my precious, bodily fluids contaminated by fluoridation.

  • RIP- Yogi Bear Aug 20, 2007

    I'm not even sure why Franklin Co. is complaining. Checked local maps and I don't even see where the Neuse even runs through Franklin Co. They already have the Tar River. Why all the fuss?

  • Nothing New Aug 20, 2007

    Post Limit: share resources or stop growth fighting over resouces will only create ill feelings, work together to develop new resources such as new lakes or put a halt to the growth.

  • Nothing New Aug 20, 2007

    Seems a large part of NC is now in a crisis of fresh water and communities are now fighting and flex muscle to control access to the that water. This is not the first fight in this area, Cary has opposed Chatham and Lee counties from drawing water from the Cape Fear as well. Since I have a well, my only source of water and dont water my over an acre of grass or weeds now a common sense approach would be to stop the irrigation of lawns and roads since most irrigation systems seem to overflow the lawns and run in the roads. If we dont conserve fresh water for human consumption we will run out. Yards and lawns while nice can wait, I would love to have a lush lawn but dont have the water and could not afford it. The communities and people need to realize we are running out of sources for fresh water and if we dont limit use more that we have now no one will have any. What ever happen to helping thy neighbor, Raliegh's growth has spurned growth in surrounding counties, all need to share res

  • poohperson2000 Aug 20, 2007

    Growth in Franklin, Wake, where ever, needs to stop until we have enough schools and water.. We think that pointing fingers at the school board is fun, but will it be as much fun to point fingers when we are out of water..

    Also, does anyone truly enjoy an abundance of water?? If they do why are we on water rationing?

  • oldrebel Aug 20, 2007

    Every minute 7 people die from bad or no water. Less then .007% of the fresh water on Earth is available to people. The UN estimates in the next 20 years, the worlds per capita water supply will drop by third, and in 2000 Kofi Annan warned that competition for fresh water could be the seeds of violence.
    What does that mean for our area? Perhaps even now Raleigh is planning a pre-emptive strike to prevent Franklin County from attaining their water supply from the Neuse. Perhaps Franklin County will wither on the vine while Raleigh enjoys the benefits of an abundance of water at the expense of their neighbors. Who knows. Perhaps someone will wake up to the idiocy of unbridled growth in the Triangle if there's going to be a dearth of water for those new residents...as well as those already here.