Local News

Raleigh Asks Franklin County Not to Drink From Neuse

Posted February 19, 2008

— Mayor Charles Meeker sent a letter to Franklin County commissioners Tuesday, asking the county to back off its plans to to draw drinking water from the Neuse River.

Franklin County is looking at building a $23 million pump station and pipeline that would pull water from the river near the former Burlington Mills textile plant off U.S. Highway 1 north of Raleigh.

Officials have said using an intake pipe at the plant, which closed more than a decade ago, would be a cheaper and easier option to serve the growing southern end of than extending more lines from Henderson and Kerr Lake, where Franklin County now gets its water. Most of the county would continue to rely on Henderson and Kerr Lake for its water, they said.

"From the city of Raleigh's perspective, this is just a bad idea, and we need to say so clearly and forcefully," Meeker said. "There's no way the city of Raleigh can really compromise its water supply. I think everybody understands that."

In the letter, he said the Army Corps of Engineers regulates the water flow from Falls Lake into the Neuse River to maintain a specified water level at Clayton. The Corps has reduced the flow to conserve the dwindling water supply in the lake, and the flow would have to increase if Franklin County drew water at the former textile plant.

He also notes that drawing water from the Neuse River for Franklin County customers would amount to an inter-basin transfer since most of the county is in the Tar-Pamlico River Basin. State authorities have frowned on such moves in the past, he wrote.

"I hope you realize our position is that the Neuse River has no additional water supply resources available – if such were the case, we would be pursuing this location ourselves in our long-term water supply plan," Meeker wrote.

The state Environmental Management Commission and the Division of Water Quality have classified the intake pipe at the former plant as suitable for drinking water, so Franklin County officials said they aren't deterred by Raleigh's opposition.

"Anytime you've got to deal with a natural resource like this, you've got certain impediments – bumps in the road – that you have to deal with," said Bryce Mendenhall, director of public utilities for Franklin County. "It just seems sensible to try and look on this southern tip (of the county) to help the growth that's taking place."

Franklin County commissioners are expected to discuss the water plan next week. State officials haven't set a timetable for when the idea might be approved or rejected.

The state has required Raleigh to limit development of about 5,000 acres in north Raleigh to decrease the potential runoff that could adversely affect water quality near the intake. Raleigh officials this month rejected zoning regulations proposed by the state because of the potential impact on thousands of homeowners and said they would meet minimal state standards for runoff.


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  • SheriffTruman Feb 20, 2008

    For all those who think Raleigh is being a bully and that Franklin should be able to use this water. How on earth does that make sense? They currently take water from Kerr Lake, which has tons of excess capacity for drinking water and they want to take from a River and Lake that is already pretty well taxed?

    Spend the money to upgrade the connection to Henderson/Kerr Lake.

  • Steve Crisp Feb 19, 2008

    "I hope you realize our position is that the Neuse River has no additional water supply resources available – if such were the case, we would be pursuing this location ourselves in our long-term water supply plan," Meeker wrote.

    Now, is the long-term plan of which you speak different from the "let's hope it rains soon" scheme that you have been banking on? Or is there another one we are not familiar with?

  • Frank Downtown Feb 19, 2008

    The Little River Reservior well only supply alittle of the water that is needed for the thousands of houses being built in Garner, Knightdale, Zebulon, and the Eastern Part of the County. Long term- we need to limit housing until the water, roads, and schools can catch up!

  • TechRescue Feb 19, 2008

    Look at a map, especially a topographical one. The upper ends of Falls lake are in both Durham and Granville Counties. The water that flows into that lake comes from the Neuse, Eno, and Flat Rivers (and a myriad of small creeks). To say that Raleigh gets it's water from Wake Country is to imply that Wake County is a self-contained eco-system, which is certainly not true.

    By that reasoning, Franklin could take it's pipeline into the upper end of Falls and tap directly into the Neuse by cutting across the bottom end of Durham and Granville Counties. It's water would then never flow through Wake County, so I guess no problem.

    The point I'm trying to make is that this is not Mayor Meeker's or Raleigh's or Wake's water, this is a natural resource that belongs to everyone. Raleigh would scream bloody murder if Durham County dammed the Eno or Flat, even though they have less water days than Raleigh. Don't claim to "own" something that anyone upstream can take away from you.

  • Rodney F Feb 19, 2008

    I believe it was Mark Twain who said "whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over"

  • justjean Feb 19, 2008

    Raleigh gets it's water from a source in Granville and Durham Counties. Ummm, Raleigh gets its water from Falls Lake. It takes a heavy rain in Northern Durham to flow down to Falls Lake.

    Poor planning is probably some of the cause of this issue, but I've heard that the WTP that are in the works will cost the taxpayers $250 million for one and $200 million for the other. On top of that Federal Environmental studies take about 10 years to perform when considering the site of a WTP, throw on another 10 years for acquiring loans to build and then actually build the WTP and you're looking at about 20 years till completion. So you people need to decide, what's more important to you, water, money or just sitting back and complaining.

  • TechRescue Feb 19, 2008

    "It's Franklin county that wants to extract water from a water source in Wake county."

    Interesting. However, Raleigh gets it's water from a source in Granville and Durham Counties, which in turn get their water from sources in Orange, Person, Alamance, and others. Are you suggesting we start building dams at every County Line?

  • TechRescue Feb 19, 2008

    Expect more of this - Right now, Georgia is feuding both with Tennessee and Alabama over water rights. A lack of planning in NC (both on the local and state level), coupled with a growing realization that there will not always be all the water everyone wants, is going to lead to more strong-arm attempts, especially by those (Raleigh) who have been particularly shortsighted and arrogant (Raleigh) about their destiny to be the water barons of the 21st Century.

    No, Russell Allen, you did not do "a pretty good job of planning" (WRAL story a couple of days ago). You and your cronies, and your predecessors, did a horrible job. Don't worry, though - just keep making promises and the good folks in Raleigh will vote you another term. That's all that matters, right?

  • Leonardo Feb 19, 2008

    Give Meeker a break. It's Franklin county that wants to extract water from a water source in Wake county. If Meeker didn't say something, then you'd all be complaining too. You people just like to complain about everything.

  • WRALwontdeletemyaccount Feb 19, 2008

    That takes a lot of nerve, Mr Meeker.

    Once again, you seek to penalize those who have NOT caused the problem. It's YOUR office which has, via uncontrolled growth, caused this problem!!!!!!!!!!