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Water Production Projects Could Be Expedited at State Level

Posted October 18, 2007

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— As local leaders across the state continue to monitor water levels amid worsening drought conditions, Gov. Mike Easley said Wednesday they also need to begin looking now at long-term drought relief.

In Raleigh, the projection calls for doubling production in 13 years from 86 million gallons to 160 million gallons. Officials believe the $500 million plan would help guard against drought for the next 30 years.

Projects were under way "that will provide an extra measure of, I'll say, drought resistance," Ed Buchan, a water conservation specialist with Raleigh's Public Utilities Department.

The Dempsey Benton Plant in Garner, which will add a capacity of 20 million gallons of water every day by adding new lakes to the system, will be completed in 2010.

An expansion of the E. M. Johnson Plant at Falls Lake will be finished in 2015 and will pump in 34 million more gallons every day.

It will be at least 2020 before the Little River Facility, which will produce about 20 million more gallons, comes on line in eastern Wake County. As of mid-October, however, construction on the plant had not started. Paperwork from the state level ties up the projects, Buchan said.

"That's the issue – trying to get all the proper permits," he said.

Easley said Wednesday he would like to see what can be done to speed up the process.

"We need to start looking at going on and getting those systems in place, now, for situations like these (the dwindling water supply) so they don't happen again," he said.

State officials say they are ready to work with Raleigh leaders when, and if, they make a request to speed up some of that paperwork. The funding for the three water projects will not come from tax money but from water and sewer fees.

The state has announced plans to meet with local government and business leaders about the drought and ways to conserve water. Three meetings will happen in Raleigh, Greensboro and Asheville on Oct. 30.


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  • getrealpeople Oct 20, 2007

    Read the article again. They are expandiing the plant and building a new 20 MGD plant on Lake Benson. Seperate Basins. Cary is ok cause they draw 20MGD from Jordan which can supply 100 mgd or so. Ever tried to get permits to build a pier at the coast? Try getting permits to clear 1,000 acres for Little River Lake? Try getting a permit for your business sign in Cary! lol

  • ohmygosh Oct 20, 2007

    I propose we submerge downtown Raleigh and an area 15 miles radius around it. That will take care of both the supply and demand problem.

  • ohmygosh Oct 20, 2007

    Maybe most of you are not old enough to remember past history.
    I've been through three of these drought cycles now in various places. The reaction from government has always been:
    1) studies
    2) try and get fed money, which never is spent on actual implementation
    3) forget about it when it rains again.

    They would much prefer to try sound like they are responding than to do anything. If they can line their pockets in the process, so much the better.

    In reality, what can they really do? Can they make it rain more? Steal water that is headed downstream for others?
    This smacks for the Colorado river situation where it's supply is overcomitted by 100% by legistative agreements. As a result the downstream areas (including Mexico) doesn't get any water.

    Anybody out there actually think there is land available to create more reseviors without displacing large populations?

    At any rate, there isn't any short term solution. It's a decades long process.

  • billy Oct 19, 2007

    Speed up the permitting process and speed up the construction.
    With the whole area growing like it is better be prepared.
    Seems like government projects take a long time to get going, and then done, but maybe they'll get in gear if you call, write, and/email all your elected officials.
    Start building now and on a fast track.

  • Run_Forrest_Run Oct 19, 2007

    Still can't pump what you don't have.

  • ncwebguy Oct 19, 2007

    We don't have the water infrastructure in place today because Mayors Fetzer and Coble were more concerned in keeping taxes low than planning for the future. Their councils approved everything for North Raleigh while thinking the Falls Lake supply would be good enough.

    When Raleigh started supplying other muncipalities with water (Garner, Wake Forest, etc.) they should have planned for adding to the supply to meet that demand. Demand has risen quicker than anticipated (cross reference schools, roads) and the weather has not cooperated either.

    As for the EPA, six years of Republican congress and White House rule have crippled the EPA into not being able to enforce anti-pollution laws on the books. And passing "clean skies" laws that allow for expansion at coal-fired power plants without adding technology to reduce emissions. If we didn't have the EPA, the US would have Mexico-like air and water problems and an iffy food supply.

  • TheWB Oct 19, 2007

    Wait, here is another link (sorry must type it in) that shows desal. does work and is achievable. If all of the countries listed are doing it, and few are as prosperous as we are, then by golly we should be able to bring water as far as the Triangle from the coast. Looking at the map they are scattered all over the world until you get to the USA, but Tampa Fl. is building one now. A side note I read is that brackish water, naturally, takes less energy to desalinate and we have an abundant supply of that on our coast.


  • TheWB Oct 19, 2007

    terriersrfun- You're right I'm sorry, I was originally going to talk about a grade level and stuff but then decided to use sea level but typed away with those estimates still in my head.

    bobbyj- I don't think you read the link I posted, they built their system which is probably 10 times bigger than anything we would require for a billion dollars


  • Professor Studley Oct 19, 2007

    "Actually TheWB, Raleigh is about 260 ft above sea level"

    It's closer to 350ft with rises as tall as 435ft... but who's a few feet... long story short... with a rise of about 1 ft./mi., wouldn't seem to be a huge task to pipeline water from the coast, however, I do not specilize in this field.

  • Road-wearier Oct 19, 2007

    Mr Primate - more capacity is needed. Remember the drought of 2005? It was nearly as bad as this one. And 2002 was very dry - three dry years in five years. And this area is growing like, well, mushrooms after the rain. *IF* the weather patterns are changing, this could be our long term reality and we need to have plans now.

    And Raleigh's expanding pumping/processing capacity at Falls Lake? Great! Now they can pump the lake dry even faster! :)

    Desal plants from the coast? The pumping's the cheap part - 250 feet of height (or 'head' as it's called in the business) is pretty small over that much distance. But a desalinization plant on that scale will utterly drawf the pumping costs, and desalinization is very energy intensive. New York City brings in water from 90 miles away instead of desalinizing the ocean water right next to Brooklyn and Queens. Desal here would make for expensive water but expensive water beats no water.