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Computer Model to Help Manage Neuse Water

Posted February 25, 2008

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— Raleigh and other cities that draw water from the Neuse River plan to develop a computer model that will help them better manage the use of water in the river.

The hydrologic model for the Neuse River basin would address the long-term management of the river, including regulatory decisions about proposed water withdrawals, planning for growth and dealing with the affects of a drought.

"It's an essential tool to do good water-resources planning," said Sydney Miller, water resources manager for the Triangle J Council of Governments.

Eighty years of data would be fed into the model so it will be able to predict water demand along different sections of the river and determine the necessary supply to meet those demand levels.

"This is a water balance model," Miller said, noting he's seen precipitation data that suggests the Neuse River basin might have been sliding into a drought as early as 2006.

Miller and other observers said the model could minimize the politics in decisions such as imposing tougher water restrictions.

Environmentalists have criticized Raleigh for not implementing Stage 2 restrictions last fall, when levels at its Falls Lake reservoir fell dramatically. The City Council implemented the restrictions on Feb. 15, banning outdoor watering and pressure-washing, closing car washes that don't recycle water and pushing for cutbacks in water use from businesses like restaurants and hotels.

Raleigh Public Utilities Director Dale Crisp said he supports developing the new system, but he isn't ready to leave all the tough decisions up to a computer.

"It doesn't take all that (politics) out. It's still ultimately a decision of elected leaders," Crisp said, noting the economic impact of water restrictions needs to be part of the assessment.

The computer model is "a tool that will be used, hopefully to provide more accurate information," he said.

Crisp said the Stage 2 rules have cut water use by about 10 percent, from about 40 million gallons a day early this month to about 36 million gallons a day at the end of last week and over the weekend.

The Army Corps of Engineers, which manages Falls Lake, also has reduced the flow of water from the lake into the Neuse River by about 9 percent, or about 3 million gallons a day. Raleigh officials have asked the Corps to cut the flow by another 45 percent.

The state Division of Water Resources will pick up $255,000 of the $350,000 cost to develop the computer model over the next 18 months. Cities that use the river basin for drinking water, – Raleigh, Durham and Wilson, among others – and industries would pay the rest, based on their water consumption.

The state already has produced similar long-range, water-use models for the Cape Fear, Catawba and Yadkin river basins.

19 Comments

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  • getrealpeople Feb 25, 2008

    We need to be shutting gates, digging holes and laying pipe. It's rediculous.
    What gates are you going to close? What holes will find water? Lay pipe to where? Kerr Lake? You can't close the gates at Falls Lake.
    Also State 2 does stop growth. You can only construct water & sewer lines. No connection unless you can capture all the water when flush the mains to test! Hard to do. Stopping irrigation was the best thing. It was a waste. Just conserve and it will rain and you will go back to watering your yard.

  • geosol Feb 25, 2008

    The current water restrictions are helping a little bit right now, but they're effects will be more noticeable this summer when demand normally increases. I think that the main effect of the restrictions will be to reduce the size of the normal increased seasonal demand.

    I still cannot fathom how a moratorium on new connections is not a major consideration right now. Building permits can continue, just can't hook up to the endangered water supply. That would get the developers and realtors to use their considerable political influence around here to finally help everyone and not just their own pocketbooks. While we run out of water.

  • Adelinthe Feb 25, 2008

    "Also My lawn is very important and I want my water back."

    Thank God we don't have to worry about that. We replaced all of our lawns, every bit of it, with trees, flower beds and moss laden pathways. It's beautiful, and so much healthier for the environment.

    Lawn is not natural; the masses have just been brainwashed to think it is.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • blackdog Feb 25, 2008

    ...I have 4 computers, and none of them produce rain or control growth...

  • Adelinthe Feb 25, 2008

    "There are growing pains that come with that growth, but if your population becomes stagnant or receeds you lose your tax base and community services either get cut or the costs go way up."

    A community can halt growth and not become stagnant by upgrading and increasing the value of their infrastructure.

    Higher tax bases then come when real estate, etc., is re-assessed thereby increasing the taxes after the upgrades.

    But it's true that even that can go on for just so long.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • Beachnut Feb 25, 2008

    Hooptie1964: RB - It's a pretty commonly known economic rule that if a metropolitan area is not experiencing growth it will eventually begin a downward spiral.

    This is neither "commonly known" nor is it a "rule". This is propaganda spread by proponents of the development community. There are THOUSANDS of communities across the U.S. that have little or no growth yet remain vibrant communities. This "downward spiral" idea is a myth!

  • Beachnut Feb 25, 2008

    great, another $350K of our money will be spent on a computer program to provide information that the politicos are going to ignore anyway.

  • veyor Feb 25, 2008

    We've gone from 40 mil/day to 36 mil/day - The Corps cut 3 million and Holly Springs cut 0.5 million. Stage 2 has made 0.5 mil/gal. difference. We can't conserve ourselves out of this. We need to be shutting gates, digging holes and laying pipe. It's rediculous.

  • RaleighGator Feb 25, 2008

    I'm actually aghast that a model of the Falls Lake watershed does not already exist. I think we are finally finding out why we are in such a mess. The N&O is finally starting to publish probing articles and the TV stations are finally living up to their community responsibility. Either they have been willing partners in the Raleigh boosterism that only wants good news spread or they have been remiss in their duty to the people of the Triangle. I say once we know the full story the solutions will start to flow.

  • hooptie1964 Feb 25, 2008

    RB - It's a pretty commonly known economic rule that if a metropolitan area is not experiencing growth it will eventually begin a downward spiral.

    There are growing pains that come with that growth, but if your population becomes stagnant or receeds you lose your tax base and community services either get cut or the costs go way up.

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