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Franklin County in pact to pull drinking water from Neuse

Posted February 25, 2009

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— Franklin County has reached an agreement with the owners of a former textile plant to use the plant's water intake on the Neuse River as a drinking water source.

County officials have been eyeing the the former Burlington Mills plant off U.S. Highway 1 north of Raleigh as a water source for several years. A $23 million pump station and pipeline to Franklin County could provide residents with up to 7 million gallons a day, they said.

Most of Franklin County gets its water from Henderson and Kerr Lake, but officials said it was be easier and cheaper to use an intake pipe at the plant, which closed more than a decade ago, for serving the growing southern end of the county.

Raleigh officials have opposed the move, saying withdrawing water from the Neuse River would affect the downstream flow and could require the Army Corps of Engineers to release more water from Falls Lake to meet state-mandated minimum flows.

The state Environmental Management Commission and the Division of Water Quality have classified the plant's intake pipe as suitable for drinking water.

State regulators 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.

Franklin County plans to create a nonprofit corporation to acquire, finance and develop the plant and related equipment, officials said.

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