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Alternative Flow to Neuse Suggested to Preserve Raleigh's Water Supply

Posted November 7, 2007

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— City officials are working with the Army Corps of Engineers on a plan to pump water from Lake Benson and Lake Wheeler into the Neuse River to conserve Raleigh's dwindling drinking water supply in Falls Lake.

The city has proposed pumping about 202 gallons per second from Lake Benson into the Neuse River near Auburn-Knightdale Road, using a new pump station and 10 miles of sewer force main. Because neither the pump station nor the sewer lines have been used yet, there shouldn't be an adverse environmental impacts, said Dale Crisp, director of Raleigh's Department of Public Utilities.

The Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources haven't yet approved the plan.

The water from Lake Benson and Lake Wheeler – it empties into Lake Benson through Swift Creek – would allow lower discharges from Falls Lake, the primary reservoir for Raleigh and several Wake County towns. Crisp estimated that the move could add up to three weeks to the available water supply at the lake.

But Ed Buchan, a water conservation expert with the Department of Public Utilities, said Lake Benson and Lake Wheeler can be lowered by no more than 10 feet each by the pumping.

The alternative flow to the river would be the latest step for Raleigh in its effort to conserve the water supply at Falls Lake, which was more than 8 feet below normal on Wednesday. The lake was about 6 inches from its record-low level, reached two weeks ago, and has at least 115 days of water left, Crisp said.

Stage 1 water restrictions were adopted in late August to reduce outdoor watering to two weekdays and on weekends. Two weeks ago, the city implemented "Stage 1.5" restrictions, banning sprinklers for lawn watering and personal car washing.

Since the tighter rules went into effect, average daily water demand has fallen by 22 percent, from 52.8 million gallons to 41.2 million gallons, officials said.

The city has been moving ahead with plans to bring Lake Benson into the city's drinking water system to add supply, but that project is still in progress. The lake was once a water source, but the city abandoned it when the Falls Lake system became the main source.


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  • Vietnam Vet Nov 8, 2007

    Maybe Raleigh shouldn't have given up Lake Benson when Falls Lake came online. Should have kept them both??

  • Jeremiah Nov 8, 2007

    "I'd like to know; do the water rates for Wake County decrease with the more water you use"-somebody

    No, not in Raleigh. Not sure why. OTher cities around the state do, including Greensboro.-me

    oops, i misread the original comment. other cities around the state INCREASE the cost of water the MORE you use.

  • fatherofa4yr Nov 7, 2007

    WF rules - As for car washes and pressure washing, the rule is set up to help people who own these types of businesses maintain an income to feed there families. This is how these people make a living. THE DROUGHT IS NOT OVER!!! We are on restrictions to help keep the water we have left to live off of. Unless we get lots and lots of rain the problem is only going to get worse. Go ahead and water your lawn and keep it green. When the water is all gone because of people like you who are tired of trying to conserve, keep your hands in you pockets when water has to be distributed. As for a well- good luck, those tables are also low and lots of wells have already dried up.

  • Waterrox Nov 7, 2007

    mvnull - just to let you know, human waste or treated wastewater residuals (i.e., sludge) is never applied to crops that are intended for human consumption. However, than can be applied to animal feed crops.

    WF - as for car washes, most places do use recycle water, but car washes that do not are still allowed to operate because it is a business. You'd be putting people out of work if you don't allow those car washes to operate. That is way more politically damaging to take away someones job than to prohibit them from washing cars.

    Good comments y'all.

  • Jeremiah Nov 7, 2007

    "I'd like to know; do the water rates for Wake County decrease with the more water you use"

    No, not in Raleigh. Not sure why. OTher cities around the state do, including Greensboro.

  • skidkid269 Nov 7, 2007

    Has anyone considered what will happen to the ecosystem between Falls Dam and the point the water is introduced? The river level there is already low. Reducing the flow out of Falls Lake will make things worse.

  • WFrules Nov 7, 2007

    Iron Man: Right on man. I feel the same way. You can find other ways to wash your car at home still and not be seen.

  • Iron Man Nov 7, 2007

    I'd like to know; do the water rates for Wake County decrease with the more water you use.

  • Iron Man Nov 7, 2007

    Can someone explain why you can use a pressure washer for home use and not wash your car. I can wash two cars with less than 5 gallons per washing which I use to do once or twice a month. Someone help me understand that.

  • WFrules Nov 7, 2007

    Jeremiah: True that two wrongs don't make a right. I'm just tired of conserving and we've conserved enough. Once Raleigh gets serious about making the rules and not 1.5 stage restrictions maybe we'll start to save more water.