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Water Woes Could Dry Up Durham Development

Posted December 4, 2007

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— Potential development in Durham could be put on hold because there may not be enough water to go around.

On Monday, the council delayed a vote to extend water and sewer lines to the area where a project called Jordan at Southpoint is proposed.

The move essentially puts the 228-unit subdivision on Fayetteville Road in southern Durham on hold.

"I don't want to make a commitment and find out in four months we can't live up to the commitment," Mayor Bill Bell said. "We're going to have to look at each one on a case-by-case basis."

The ongoing drought has left Lake Michie and Little River Reservoir, the city's two main water supplies, with 52 days of water as of Tuesday.

City officials have to ensure there's enough water for the homes and residents already in the city, Bell said.

If city leaders don't get a handle on the water problem soon, developers might start heading to other counties, said Frank Thomas, a spokesman for the Home Builders Association of Durham, Orange and Chatham Counties.

"To be told no at this late stage in the game, when that sort of thing doesn't happen, it's cause for concern," Thomas said. "Anytime they start saying no to new development for any kind of reason, that would kind of qualify as a moratorium."

Bell said he doesn't think the drought will lead to a housing moratorium. He said developers are welcome to submit plans with the knowledge that a lack of water and sewer lines might hold their project up.

"I don't think the impact could be as great as if we ran out of water," he said.

County Manager Mike Ruffin said the drought could also limit Durham's ability to recruit new business if companies believe the city can't provide basic services.

Durham plans to tap into water an abandoned quarry in the coming weeks, which officials said could provide extend the city's water supply by about three weeks.

Meanwhile, city staff members were expected to meet with the Jordan at Southpoint developer to determine exactly how much water the subdivision would use. Bell also asked officials to look at how many housing projects are in the pipeline and how the drought could impact them.


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  • paddie Dec 4, 2007

    "If city leaders don't get a handle on the water problem soon, developers might start heading to other counties, said Frank Thomas, a spokesman for the Home Builders Association of Durham, Orange and Chatham Counties."
    Is this supposed to be some kind of threat? ROFLMAO! Doesn't this idiot realize the entire state is in a pickle?

  • whatelseisnew Dec 4, 2007

    I have completely solved my own water concern. I hooked my sewer line to my well casing. It's a nice endless loop system. The water does seem to be a bit murky though.

  • gunnarbiker Dec 4, 2007

    I blame all of this on those skeezy slimy developers!

  • Mean Old Mom Dec 4, 2007

    Let's all move to Smithfield and have a pool party!
    Honestly! The news clips on this site today would be comical if it weren't for the seriousness of the lack of rainfall and dwindling public water supplies!

  • mugofstout2 Dec 4, 2007

    I live in the Willow Hill suddivision off of Guess Rd. We are not even in the city limits, but A guy in the nieghborhood who wants to add on to his house got up a petion to force 14 households to pay for a sewer line. He lives in a cul-de-sac, and has almost no frontage, and so has to pay very little, while the rest of us have to pay thousands. and of course he is to cheap to upgrade his septic syatem. But any way, the City of Durham has people working on this sewer line right now! Since there is no water for new development in the city limits, why should the City be forcing it on people OUTSIDE the city limits?

  • PaulRevere Dec 4, 2007

    Mayor Bell...late to the party as usual.

  • Adelinthe Dec 4, 2007

    Ya think?

    The water woes should have put development on hold long ago, then we'd not be in this predicament.

    Praying for them.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • OpinionOnEverything Dec 4, 2007

    Thanks, Wateroxx, I opened the file and checked it out. There are a few diagrams of acceptable in-house graywater filtration systems. I'm sure they cost money, but like air filters, humidifiers, and other energy-saving devices we put in our homes, there will be a growing market demand for these things despite the higher cost. I probably couldn't afford it now, but if builders get smart they will figure out how to incorporate water conservation methods in new homes and developments. Eventually, the laws will have to be changed to allow treated graywater use. I suspect if entrepreneurs see profit in doing so, like hybrid vehicles, ample lobbyists will be hired to make things happen.

    As for wells, IT'S OUR WATER, not yours alone just because you tap into the aquifer. Surface water eventually makes it to the aquifer, and in many cases is fed by the aquifers and groundwater all around us. You may be getting "old" water, but it all falls from the same sky as whats in the lake.

  • Waterrox Dec 4, 2007

    More information:

    Check out Table 1-3 on page 1-7 for numbers of coliforms (i.e., indicator organisms for pathogens) present in different types of household graywaters.

  • 68_polara Dec 4, 2007

    So, when a city annexes an area, they condemn wells? answer: Yes

    What would be interesting: The well is no longer usable caused by actions of another party... so why not sue for the cost of the well due to the city's 'negligence'?

    I'm sure you can't sue them I mean... they're the all wonderful knowledgeable overbearing government