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'Perfect' Rain Raises Rocky Mount Reservoir 13 Feet

Posted October 30, 2007
Updated October 31, 2007

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— Rocky Mount did not have a choice, but it turned out to be lucky in having its reservoir in the right place at the right time when rain finally came to the region last week.

With water from heavy rains flowing off the land and into the Tar River Reservoir, the city that was running desperately close to the bottom of its supply could be set for at least the next few months.

Officials say that last week, the city had about 10 percent of its water supply left. After last week's rain, the Tar River Reservoir is now up 13 feet from its reading of 107 feet at its dam, a boost of more than 10 percent in the water elevation.

“It was like the movie 'The Perfect Storm.' This was actually the perfect rain,” said Wayne Hollowell, Rocky Mount’s director of water resources.

The reservoir is still rising, and Hollowell credits heavy rain upstream, near Louisburg.

“We had a tremendous surge in the flow of the river,” Hollowell said. “It’s given us our new life.”

The water level is not yet back to a point where the city can reopen all the boat-access points on the reservoir, but the increase provides a lot of relief to the people who worry about city residents having water to drink.

“I think you are looking at a supply that will take us easily into the spring with no (more) help from the rain,” Hollowell said.

Drought planning remains in full force, nonetheless. Crews are a few days away from completing a pipeline so Rocky Mount can buy water from Wilson, a city with a source twice as big. And, although things look better on the Tar River, Rocky Mount will likely push forward to buy at least some.

“I think we would be remiss if we didn't at least activate it for a month and make sure that worked and what impact it had on our system,” Hollowell said. Water officials plan to discuss details with city leaders on Wednesday.

The city will continue to stress conservation and remains under Stage 2 restrictions that ban all lawn sprinklers and reduce commercial use, but officials could scale back limits.


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  • nisa-pizza Oct 31, 2007


    You might want to read this, especially the 3rd and 4th paragraphs. It explains alot.


  • nisa-pizza Oct 31, 2007


    My point was just because it's fed by the Neuse and the Eno upstream doesn't mean that it didn't rain heavier downstream somewhere closer to where the river "was nearly out of the banks" where it all settled downstream. That happens all the time.

    My street could flood from a sudden downpour where the next street over could be dry as a bone. It depends on where the rain clouds are. That's happened all over the triangle this summer where Cary might've been flooded and Apex/Raleigh didn't see a drop. Rain can tend to be heavier in some places than others.

    That rain we had was not consistantly heavy in all places all of the time throughout Eastern North Carolina for it's entire duration. No rainfall ever falls at consistent levels everywhere. I understand what you're saying but that doesn't mean that the AC of E released the water. It simply may have rained more downstream.

  • veyor Oct 31, 2007

    nisa-pizza - Falls is fed by the Neuse and the Eno. Surely you don't think that 5" of rain would have only made 8" difference in the level of the lake if the gates were closed. I'm not saying they should be closed, I'm saying they shouldn't be as open.

  • spazman Oct 31, 2007

    Now lets hurry up and waste it

  • paulwcooper Oct 31, 2007

    Perfect rain, my buttt! The perfect rain would be made of beer.

  • gr Oct 31, 2007

    Wilson has 2 reservoirs - Buckhorn was finished just before Hurricane Floyd (which filled it to capacity).

  • Bing Used Oct 31, 2007

    *"Wilson is the largest city in NC without a river. How can Wilson have more water than Rocky Mt."*

    The water must have flowed down river right out of Rocky Mount.
    (and Tarboro)

  • nbforrest Oct 31, 2007

    Wilson is the largest city in NC without a river. How can Wilson have more water than Rocky Mt.

  • The Oracle Oct 31, 2007

    "Tar River Reservoir is now up 13 feet from its reading of 107 feet at its dam, a boost of more than 10 percent in the water elevation." This statistic means Nothing. If the elevation of the lake were originally 13 feet, the elevation change would have been 100%, with exactly the same amount of water volume.
    The only meaningful measure wold be the percentage change in water Volume.

  • nisa-pizza Oct 31, 2007


    The water collected from the rains don't just come from the rivers and streams. Some areas got more rain than others did. The physical layout of the land especially that of the Tar river basin allows it to catch more water from the rains than some other areas.

    Like the article said it was perfect conditions for them to receive that much water, especially that area of the Tar River. More rain fell in the area that flowed to the Tar instead of flowing to the Neuse and our area. The lake area here probably just didn't get as much.

    It's just like you seeing it raining down the street on a neighbor's home that is also downhill for half an hour and your house which is uphill only gets 10 minutes worth. Everyone has seen it rain on one side of the street and not on the other.

    It just happens and the Army Corp of Engineers can't catch the water that runs off the land in the lower elevations to make it flow to the higher elevations.