Local News

Rocky Mount May Ask Wilson For Water Assistance

Posted August 21, 2007

— Rocky Mount is looking for help from a neighbor to sustain the town through a severe water shortage.

Rocky Mount town officials are considering asking to purchase between 2 and 3 million gallons of water a day from the City of Wilson, about 20 miles away.

While the proposal is still being developed, Wilson officials said they would look favorably on such a request.

"Rocky Mount has been very kind to the city of Wilson in the past, and we want to make sure we extend that kindness to them during this time," Brian Bowman, public affairs manager for the City of Wilson, said.

A pipeline already exists that was used in past exchanges of water between the communities and could be expanded to serve the latest proposal, officials said.

Rocky Mount is facing its worst water shortage in several decades, officials said.

"I think it is serious. The problem is the lack of water coming down the Tar River," Stephen Raper, Rocky Mount city manager, said.

The Tar River Reservoir, which supplies most of Rocky Mount's water, is filled to less than half of its capacity. Levels in the reservoir are at their lowest point in 30 years, town officials said.

Buckhorn Reservoir, which serves Wilson, is 30 percent below capacity, but since it's twice the size of the Tar River Reservoir, Wilson still has plenty of water, city leaders said. Five billion gallons are in the Buckhorn Reservoir, Bowman said.

Hurricane Fran gave Wilson an unexpected boon in 1999. Wilson completed building Buckhorn Reservoir shortly before the hurricane hit, immediately filling up the reservoir.

Bowman praised the foresight of city leaders who planned and built the reservoir.

"Somebody years ago said we're going to need to build more, and they built more," Bowman said. "And we can see now this is the result. We're very grateful to have this water."

Rocky Mount leaders said they are also considering increasing water-use restrictions before this week is over. The current regulations apply to residential and commercial customers and restrict lawn watering, filling swimming pools, car washing and serving water in restaurants.

Although no date has been set or cost estimated for the proposed purchase of water, Rocky Mount town leaders said they'll be grateful for any water coming down the line.

"We're getting to the point where we'll take as much as we can get," Raper said.


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  • Only In America Aug 22, 2007

    The story states the hurricane Fran filled Buckhorn. It was actually hurricane Floyd. Fran filled Tar River back after the 1996 drought.

  • MeHaT Aug 22, 2007

    We have been in a drought for some time now. It's a crying shame that they have waited so long to finally do something about this. There should have been a back up plan long ago.

  • NCTravellinman Aug 22, 2007

    Guess RM would have been wiser to expand their reservoir rather than purchase Martin L. King statues?

  • Sound Tech Aug 22, 2007

    cryingshame - The city of Rocky Mount has had water restrictions in place for weeks now. However a lot of people here are just like Raleigh and the other areas, gotta water that grass so their yard doesn't turn brown. What needs to take place now is tighter restrictions and hefty fines. However one funny thing about this was I went out to the reservoir yesterday and started to call the local paper here in RM because I saw one of their paperboxes that had been stolen in the past few weeks. It was lying in the dryng mud that use to be under water.

  • cryinshame Aug 22, 2007

    with the conditions like they are rocky mount should have already been using conservation measures , instead of just looking at their water supply go down, while thinkin no problem we'll just get water from wilson...... no problem the taxpayers will pay for it

  • drnc Aug 21, 2007

    I am fortunate to have a deep well. As you all know fluoridation of municipal water systems has led to the contamination of our precious, bodily fluids.

  • mrtwinturbo Aug 21, 2007

    Drought planning is a relatively new framework for dealing with drought. In the past, throughout the country, the emphasis has been on emergency drought relief… after the drought and associated damage had already occurred. People need to Practice appropriate conservation strategies
    Install low-water use landscaping
    Repair leaks in irrigation system
    Reset irrigation timers seasonally
    Implement water harvesting techniques
    Convert high water using plumbing and fixtures with low-flow fixtures
    Avoid outdoor watering during hottest part of the Eliminate runoff from property and reduce overspray from sprinkler systems

  • the river rat Aug 21, 2007

    And the long term solution is?