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Jordan Lake Brims With Liquid Gold

Posted February 22, 2008

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— Unlike Falls Lake north of Raleigh or parched reservoirs in Durham, Jordan Lake is filled to capacity, and several counties and municipalities are looking for ways to lap up the lake's water to quench their growing thirst.

Experts say Jordan Lake is almost a foot higher than what it is when technically full. Meanwhile, Falls Lake, Raleigh's primary reservoir, is about 8 feet below normal levels, and Lake Michie and the Little River Reservoir, Durham's main sources of drinking water, are about 3½ and 20 feet below normal, respectively.

A rush is on across the region to tap into Jordan Lake's waters as the statewide drought moves toward its second summer.

Durham, for example, now gets about 2 million gallons a day from the lake. But state and federal regulators have allocated the Bull City up to 10 million gallons a day from the Lake, and city officials are eager to take all of it.

"Jordan Lake has shown that it is fairly drought-resistant," Durham Deputy City Manager Ted Voorhees said.

Cary and Apex own the only intake pipe and water treatment plant connected to Jordan Lake, so Durham has worked a deal with those towns to expand its daily supply.

Durham officials also are talking with representatives from the Orange Water and Sewer Authority and Chatham and Orange counties about jointly investing tens of millions of dollars to build another intake pipe and water treatment plant on Jordan Lake's western shore. If approved, that project could take five to eight years to complete.

"There's room for everyone to appropriately benefit, and we're going to work together on this application so that nobody is left high and dry," Voorhees said.

Cary and Apex are allowed to tap Jordan Lake for up to 32 million gallons a day, but about a third of the lake's capacity remains unallocated.

Raleigh officials have started talking with Cary officials about purchasing up to 2 million gallons a day to help conserve as much water in Falls Lake as possible. Falls has enough drinking water to last Raleigh and six area towns on the municipal water system through at least the end of June, officials said.

Durham's plans to draw more water from Jordan Lake also could benefit Raleigh. If Durham is less reliant on Lake Michie and the Little River Reservoir, more water could be released from them to flow downstream into Falls Lake, Voorhees said.


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  • YipesStripes Feb 25, 2008

    If by "liquid gold" you mean floating feces...

  • simplelogic Feb 25, 2008

    Paulrevere, I think you might be confusing Deep River and Haw River - I live near there, and I haven't noticed any drop in the level of the Haw, which comes out of Jordan Lake. Deep River is another story, though. It's been mostly dry since early last summer, although it comes back up after a good rain.

  • workerbee Feb 25, 2008


    LaNina...LaNino..whatever...the current situation is an indication that Raliegh leaders either didn't know or care about the inability of the Lake to provide for the city water needs in worst case conditions. This is the way an engineer thinks whether it be structures, electricty, etc....what's the worst case senerio and then make it able to withstand an additional 30%. Do you really believe that was done in the case of Raleigh development vs. water use? I certainly blame people.

  • fl2nc2ca2md2nc Feb 22, 2008


    I guess that's possible... I do see your point.

    But I still don't see any restrictions on growth. It seems like a no-brainer to limit the growth until our infrastructure can catch up. That is the type of proactive measures we need, in conjunction with some reasonable restrictions and conservation. I am just a little fed up with all the sacrificing we are expected to do while the unfettered growth goes on...

  • busyb97 Feb 22, 2008

    And maybe Cary officials know that with area towns in dire straights for their water supply, they will be better positioned to help out. If your family has a full pantry, and your neighbor is nearly starving, I'd hope you'd be willing to help out and not horde. Sure, the city leaders may be thinking $$$ and not necessarily about being a good neighbor, but who cares as long as everyone gets what they need. Conserving water isn't such a bad thing is it? We recycle, clip coupons, save where we can in other areas....why not with our water too?

    Hopefully area towns (like Raleigh), don't take advantage and still not force businesses and building to conserve.

  • moreupset Feb 22, 2008

    If we keep letting current poloticians control our destiny, water will cost more than gas.

  • fedupwithitall Feb 22, 2008

    fl2nc2ca2md2nc - Jordan Lake is not drought resistant, just more tolerant than Falls. The point of continued water restrictions is to help prevent a major catastrophe from happening if the drought continues. For once, the politicians are being proactive here, thats all. If restrictions were lifted, and it begins to dry up, everyone would be screaming (rightfully so) that the restrictions should have been kept in place.

  • fl2nc2ca2md2nc Feb 22, 2008

    I didn't realize Jordan Lake was full. Now, I'm really irritated about the restrictions we are under in Apex! What is the point if Jordan Lake is apparently drought resistant?

  • terriersrfun Feb 22, 2008

    OWASA does not get its water from Jordan Lake. Its water comes from the Cane creek reservori and University lake.

  • fedupwithitall Feb 22, 2008

    Leonardo....I see the humor in your post, but unfortunately, you are right...a lot of people don't care about the facts. Darn politicians forcing all those illegal Cary transplants to drink 100000000 gallons of water per day. And also those crazy news stations that keep making things up about a drought. lol...that's what everyone on here tends to think, without even actually trying to educate themselves on the real truth of the matter. For anyone that cares to know the truth about our water situation, read my trail of comments below. These are the facts, like it or not, people really are not to blame here. If you are frustrated about the current water situation, and you want to yell at the culprit, step outside, aim your mouth at the sky, and start screaming. By the way, her name is Mother Nature, aka, La Nina. Anyone wondering why we didn't have any tropical storms last year? Same culprit...La Nina. If you disagree with me, get an education, and then come back to me.