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Raleigh Looks for Water at Bottom of Falls Lake

Posted January 25, 2008

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— A deal reached between Raleigh and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers marks the first time the Corps has agreed to drain water from the sediment layer of a lake.

City officials wanted to tap the bottommost layer of Falls Lake as an emergency reservoir in case its water supply runs out during the spring or summer.

Levels in Falls Lake have dropped 8½ feet below normal, and officials believe the Raleigh's normal allocation of water from Falls Lake will extend until mid May.

The lowest level of Falls Lake is usually set aside to collect sediment that flows into the lake from upstream, but the soft bottom could contain up to 8 billion gallons of water. That would be enough to supply Raleigh for two to three months.

The Army Corps of Engineers agreed to help Raleigh tap into the sediment layer in stages and then store that water for up to $1 million a month. Whether the state or city will bear that cost has not yet been decided.

Water from the sediment layer will probably require more chemical treatment to make it safe for drinking.

Tapping into Falls Lake's sediment is only a temporary solution, said Tom Fransen, with the state Division of Water Resources.

Developing a plan for the project will take some time, Fransen said, because the Army Corps of Engineers has not previously drained water from a lake's sediment layer. Raleigh's attempt to do so could set a precedent for other drought-affected cities in the country.

Officials must also take into account concerns about water quality, fisheries and other environmental issues.


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  • BadDayforButch Jan 25, 2008

    A million dollars a month ? Will need either more building permits granted or much higher rates to afford that. Raleigh, wake up, quit building until you get enough water for your existing users !

  • delete meee now Jan 25, 2008

    I wonder how many bodies they will find?

  • Southern Fried Yankee Jan 25, 2008

    If it were me, I'd be investing in water filters.......They'll be buying a ton of them......By the way, keep a real close eye on water quality reports....Heavy metals and God knows what tend to sink to the bottom of lakes....

  • seeingthru Jan 25, 2008

    we have become overdeveloped, people place more importance on a buck than anything else it seems, until we halt new development that is draining available resources( no pun intended) this problem will not go away STOP PRINTING BUILDING PEMITS ANF OKING NEW DEVELOPMENT NOW!!! IT HAS TO STOP!!

  • ObamaMustGo aka NCcarguy Jan 25, 2008

    I don't think they're going to be trying to make it deeper, they're just going to let the level go below what it's at now. I also don't think the treatment of this heavier sedimented water will require more chemical treatment, but it may take longer to treat.

  • justjean Jan 25, 2008

    Raleigh Looks for Water at the Bottom of Falls Lake...what a strange place to look for water. Who writes these headlines anyway??

  • marshwiggle97 Jan 25, 2008

    Digging a deeper lake will not solve the drought problem. Excavation will not increase precipitation.

  • fl2nc2ca2md2nc Jan 25, 2008

    Why don't they look for their brains while they are at it. Last time I checked they are still issuing building permits... insanity...

  • WFrules Jan 25, 2008

    here we go again...

  • flashlight Jan 25, 2008

    Keep in mind, if they make it deeper, they'll have to keep it deeper. Sediment will eventually refill what is dredged out.