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Raleigh Pumps New Water to Neuse, Saving Falls Lake Flow

Posted November 21, 2007

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— Raleigh water officials Wednesday  began pumping water from Lake Benson into the Neuse River in a trade-off that will let them send less water from the Falls Lake Reservoir.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which controls Falls Lake, agreed to the switch. By sending 27 cubic feet per second from Lake Benson, the city will keep downstream flows intact for users there.

The switch came a day after Falls Lake, the city's primary reservoir, sank to an all-time low level. The water level has continued to drop despite recent rains and declining water consumption by area residents.

Tuesday, the Corps reported that Falls Lake was at 242.62 feet, which is 8.88 feet below full and 0.16 feet below the previous low, which was set on Nov. 27, 1993. Lakes levels are measured by their height above sea level.

The lake has at least 110 days of drinking water left, assuming there is no rain before March 10 and demand remains constant, officials said. Using Lake Benson to keep the river filled adds 21 days to the supply.

"I'm not worried about running out of water,” City Manager Russell Allen said. “It is at its lowest level, but we do have extended usage because of the lake, and extended days because our consumption is down.”

Residents in Raleigh and six Wake County towns that buy water from the city have cut consumption by 37 percent since restrictions were put in place in late August. The 30-day demand average is 41.5 million gallons a day, which is down 1.9 million gallons a day from a week ago, officials said.

Rainfall at the National Weather Service station at Raleigh-Durham International Airport is 7.7 inches below normal for the year, and there is little chance for significant rain across the region in the coming days.

"The thing that I've consistently said, the thing that we need to be conscious of, is that we must conserve during the winter months in case we don't get typical rains and we start in the spring with a lower level," Allen said.

Meanwhile, Durham has 63 days of drinking water left, officials said. The city's two main reservoirs – Lake Michie and Little River Reservoir – were 12.4 feet and 26.2 feet below full, respectively, on Tuesday. Residents are still being urged to conserve water. The city is close to reaching its goal of a 30 percent cut in water consumption.

At Jordan Lake – reservoir for Cary and Chatham County – levels are only 5 feet below full. Cary has year-round water restrictions, and Chatham County last month banned outdoor watering.


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  • FatCat Nov 21, 2007

    ....makes about as much sense as the rest of it...

  • FatCat Nov 21, 2007

    I ya'll really want to trace back to the root of this water problem, and all the political messes we have in the world today, it's not a liberal or conservative thing at all. It all goes back to whoever it was that decided it'd be a good idea to let women vote! Hmmmm....wonder if that was a conservative or a liberal? Certainly sounds like a liberal thing.

    There. That settles it.

  • charlesboyer Nov 21, 2007

    hooptie, you're right. Conservative or liberal has nothing to do with water management. I guess people like to couch the blame for problems on one side or the other.

    There's no one at all to blame for a lack of rain. Right now, that would be a result of a current temperature condition off of the coast of South America, La Nina. Improvements don't look like they'll be here soon, either:


  • PaulRevere Nov 21, 2007


    I hope you are correct, but you have been saying that for a while now. So I expect to see you doing a rain dance out by the lake during the next WRAL flyover.

    Ah, see I had forgotten about that! My point is made!

  • hooptie1964 Nov 21, 2007

    Could somebody explain to me what being a liberal or a conservative has to do with being in a drought?


  • charlesboyer Nov 21, 2007

    In other words, no US president has succeeded in the Middle East since the Operation Ajax installed the Shah of Iran and deposed Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh.

    But that has nothing to do with water.

  • charlesboyer Nov 21, 2007

    "I seem to remember Carter failed to bring peace to the Middle East, but it sure didn't stop Clinton from messing around in the region making it much, much worse. Too bad GW got stuck cleaning up their mess."

    That's funny, I remember a war in the Middle East when Bush the Elder was in office, one which he stopped short of Baghdad and allowed Hussein to rearm, one where he allowed Hussein to use chemical weapons on his own people and execute tens of thousands in other ways too. As for "cleaning up the mess" in the Middle East, send us a memo when that happens. As it is now, the Taliban is poised to retake Afghanistan, Iraq is a slowly boiling civil war, Lebanon is reverting to another civil war, and no peace has been found between Israel and the Palestinians. Meanwhile, US prestige has dropped tenfold worldwide, our currency is collapsing and petroleum is increasing at 12% per year.

  • Worland Nov 21, 2007

    ncsudan -- typical Liberal response. I seem to remember Carter failed to bring peace to the Middle East, but it sure didn't stop Clinton from messing around in the region making it much, much worse. Too bad GW got stuck cleaning up their mess. I still don't see what that has to do with Raleigh sucking down all of the state's water supply?!?!?

  • ANYWHO Nov 21, 2007

    mayor geeker will fix it all with his liberalness..he isnt even from raleigh. figured when he moved to wake county from las vegas he would have been cary's mayor..

  • sorry Nov 21, 2007

    Raleigh don't know what the word means to cut back. They tryed to steel water from Butner but we stop that real quick. Raleigh will cry and cry but they need to get real and cut back on water