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Raleigh Looks to Lake Sediment, Cary for Water

Posted December 12, 2007
Updated December 13, 2007

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— With tougher water restrictions in Raleigh a week away and Durham preparing to tap an abandoned quarry to extend its dwindling water supply, public utilities officials gathered Wednesday to discuss options for dealing with the ongoing drought.

Falls Lake, Raleigh's primary reservoir, has about 96 days of water left, and the city is prepared to enact Stage 2 water restrictions once that supply reaches 90 days.

The tighter limits would ban outdoor watering and pressure-washing, close local car washes that don't use recycled water and encourage restaurant diners and hotel guests to conserve water by drinking other beverages and reusing linens. After a two-week grace period, first-time violators would face a $1,000 fine, and subsequent violations could result in the cancellation of water service.

Raleigh officials are looking at emergency measures to increase its water supply, such as tapping the muddy sediment at the bottom of Falls Lake.

"We've already done some samples at those levels, (and) we know it can be treated," said Dale Crisp, director of the city's Department of Public Utilities. "Surprisingly, it's not as bad as we thought it was going to be."

The sediment pool could contain up to 90 days' worth of water, officials said, but it's unclear how much of that would need to be pumped past the Falls Lake dam into the Neuse River for use by communities downstream.

The city also has discussed buying water from Cary, a solution that would require a bit of engineering. Cary pulls its water from Jordan Lake and has enough capacity to last another year.

"Our infrastructure is not set up for the water to come to us. It's set up to send it to other systems," Crisp said. "(This) is something that Raleigh has never done before."

Reworking the pipes to make it a two-way system could be an expensive proposition, officials said, adding that it might not be worth the effort.

Raleigh would be able to buy about 2 million gallons a day from Cary, about 5 percent of its average daily consumption.

Durham already buys about 1.8 million gallons a day from Cary and is considering doubling that amount. The city also will soon tap Teer Quarry to extend its water supply by about 25 days.

At a Wednesday meeting, public utilities directors from Chatham County, Chapel Hill-Carrboro, Hillsborough, Durham, Cary and Raleigh also discussed the need for better communication.

One way would be a common list of water restrictions, so Stage 1 and Stage 2 mean the same thing to everyone.

"(Communities now) can have 20 stages or two stages," said Vicky Westbrook, compliance officer for Durham Water Management. "At least if they say we have an outdoor water ban, then everyone knows what that means across the region."

Officials also discussed the need for public pleas for water conservation to continue. They plan to take their request to Gov. Mike Easley's office.

"More often and more frequent messaging (should be) coming out, reminding Durham's customers, Raleigh's customers, statewide that the drought is ongoing."

34 Comments

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  • denverbob234 Dec 13, 2007

    If we get water from Cary, will we all develope those same bad attitudes they have in Cary?? If so, I choose to go without

  • Steve Crisp Dec 13, 2007

    They are worthless fools, many of whom deserve nothing less than prison for how they have squandered out money. And Meeker leads the pack.

    He has consistantly shown a complete disreguard for the overwell welfare and future of our community unless it involves trees, greenways, or lining the pockets of his law partners. And in his footsteps, we find his minion, Thomas Crowder whose vision of development is centered around archaic policies that construct some sort of utopian surroundings for himself to the detriment of everyone else and our wishes.

    And now, rather than build roads, fix traffic lights, hire police and firemen (and increase the salaries of those currently ont the payroll,) build water storage and treatment systems, and construct a storm sewer system that is actually matched to the capacity it needs to be at, they are looking at spending millions of dollars on a park. A park, mind you, that will permenently remove 360 acres of prime real estate from the tax base.

    Idiots.

  • Steve Crisp Dec 13, 2007

    The various members of city councils in Wake County, the County Board of Commissioners, and the Wake County Public School Board have done nothing less than embezzle our tax dollars and spend them on idiotic projects rather than the things they are mandated to do as governmental agencies. They have wasted our money. They have committed fraud and allowed fraud to be committed. They have lied about the cost of projects that we did not need to begin with, but continued to ram down our throats even after we told them no or to stop. And some of them have stolen or misappropriated money for their own personal use -- that is criminal in actuality.

    And don't ever forget one thing; The members of all those elected groups are overwhelmingly liberal Democrats. Their whole political world view surrounds wasting money wihout accountability.

    Our problem now is that it will take untold billions of dollars to fix their mistakes, money that should have been incrementally spent over the past 20 years.

  • Steve Crisp Dec 13, 2007

    To bulldozer:

    No one is blaming the developers (today) because this situation is not their fault. Our vacancy rate for both houses and apartments is very low. That clearly indicates that there is demand for what is being built. But those developers can not build without the proper permits being issued by the city. It is the city who had ALLOWED development without doing anything about the services needed to support that development.

    Keep in mind something. All those houses that have been built in the past ten or fifteen years have electricity, natural gas, telephone service, cablevision and other non-city supplied services. There has not even been any issues with building materials or the labor pool to construct those houses. Private companies have managed to build out their infrastructure without issues.

    It is only the city in their job to provide water, sewer, fire and police protection, and proper road infrastructure that has completely failed.

  • lindsatkins Dec 13, 2007

    I don't understand why they are waiting for only 90 days of water to implent water restrictions that should have been implemented long ago.

  • Rocknhorse Dec 13, 2007

    "The tighter limits would .... encourage restaurant diners and hotel guests to conserve water by drinking other beverages"

    OK, when I'm not drinking water, I drink coffee but I don't think that will be any better. My family drinks tea. Again, don't think that will help. I quit drinking soft drinks years ago and don't plan to start back.

    I'm not negating that we have had less rain than typical. However, I'm still not convinced that we are in a desperate drought, either. When I can drive by ponds and other lakes, creeks and streams and some are a bit low but not dangerously empty-some are not even low-then I really have to question why aren't they drying up? There is enough moisture in the air to create the humidity to cause heavy dew in the am. I pass field everyday are are turning the most lovely shade of green w/o watering. My grass is green.

    Someone who understands better, please explain this to me.

  • skypilot-not Dec 13, 2007

    Gee; muddy water. Now all I have to do is find a hollow log to live in and my life will be complete...

  • shine Dec 13, 2007

    There was a 400 pound gorilla in the room six months ago and no one wanted to to see him. Now that reactive has consumed proactive - everyone is scrambling. They were all playing the hurricane odds.

  • BULLDOZER Dec 13, 2007

    What? No one is blaming the builder/developers for this? I thought they caused the drought by over building the triangle and putting more cars on the road. How can this be? An infrastructure problem that is actually not being caused by the homebuilder community. WOW. Somebody write this day down for history.

  • bottleworks Dec 13, 2007

    Steve Crisp, for once I agree with you.

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