Local News

Raleigh Considers Recycled Water for Irrigation

Posted January 24, 2008

— Used water could soon help area lawns stay green during drought conditions.

Raleigh engineers are designing a 17-mile pipeline that would pump some treated wastewater through the city for outdoor irrigation and other uses. The City Council and state environmental regulators would have to approve the $21 million plan before it could be put in place.

"Reclaimed water in North Carolina is treated wastewater," said Ken Waldroup, construction projects administrator for the city's Department of Public Utilities. "It can be used for irrigation, street sweeping, processed cooling water, possibly toilet flushing."

The reuse water could not be used for drinking or cooking.

The city discharges all of its treated wastewater into the Neuse River. Waldroup said plans call for building a pump station near the wastewater treatment plant on Battle Bridge Road southeast of Raleigh, and then pumping a fraction of the wastewater back through a system that would extend to North Carolina State University's Centennial Campus.

Plans call for the pump station to be operating by December 2009.

The goal is to connect some of the biggest water users in the city to the pipeline.

Centennial Campus, the Walnut Creek Amphitheatre, a few golf courses and animal feed manufacturer Cargill Inc. already have agreed to tap the line once it is put in place, Waldroup said. The city was talking with WakeMed, Wake Technical Community College and several schools about following suit.

Raleigh residents near the pipeline also might be able to tap into the system, he said.

"We're developing programs to help average users retrofit," he said. "As the city grows and development occurs, developers are welcome to incorporate this into irrigation and construction plans."

Outdoor watering with sprinklers has been banned in Raleigh since October in an effort to conserve as much of the city's dwindling water supply as possible. Waldroup said it is possible people using reclaimed water wouldn't face such restrictions.

Cary has been recycling about 1 million gallons of treated wastewater a day for irrigation since 2001. The town also is working on a project to pipe used water to the Wake County portion of Research Triangle Park.

"It really helps in the drought because it saves on the amount of water we have to pump from Jordan Lake," Cary Utilities Director Robert Bonne said.


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  • BadDayforButch Jan 25, 2008

    Genius idea....Cary has been doing this for years. Why is Raleigh so far behind the curve ?

  • getrealpeople Jan 25, 2008

    From what you saying that is not allowed. Hope you feel ok?
    The cost to pump back to Falls lake $$$, also the COE is required to keep river at certain level. The over 40 million gallons of water released from waste treatment plant into the river makes up large part of that flow. So if reuse is diverted from river and river drops the COE lets more water out of Falls lake. They are releasing 35 million gallons a day now. See USGS site.

    Coolwill--The water will not be free, but large industrial users can use it for golf courses & large non drinking uses of water. The goal is to use drinking water for drinking, cooking, bathing etc and non drinking water for washing streets and irrigation.

  • coolwill Jan 25, 2008

    If wake med, and golf clubs, and NC state university is going to have the green grass then they should pay for it. If I cannot connect to it then do not spend tax dollars on this special interest project. This city still wants to aid special interest and not all of its tax payers. Let them have brown grass too. Run the pipes to all citizens. 21 million tax dollars to be spent on companies that can afford it to pay there way. As far as NC sate is concerned they should only pay for it out of the money made from games not tax

  • independent-opinion Jan 25, 2008

    whatelseisnew, how does that work? Are you saying that that which normally would go to your septic system now goes directly into your water source?

  • whatelseisnew Jan 24, 2008

    They should pipe it straight back into Falls Lake. I did that with my outflow line; it goes right back into my well. No shortage of water in my home.