Raleigh, N.C. — Some homeowners in north Raleigh are showering at local gyms and waiting for it to rain before they can shower or flush a toilet, all because their private wells are dry.
Residents on Norwood Oaks Drive said two of the private underground wells they get their water from are dry, while the remaining nine are low.
Ginny Mahaney said she can’t shower, cook or wash dishes because of the problem. Mahaney believes Aqua, a public water company that operates in 14 states and serves 24, 000 customers in Wake County, is to blame.
“We are out of water because Aqua is over-pumping the well that is right across the street from us,” Mahaney said.
Aqua has three large community wells within 2,000 feet of the affected area. Homeowners say the water that should still be underground in their wells is being pumped to nearby neighborhoods.
“They’re pumping like crazy so all these developments that have grown up in the past five to eight years in Raleigh are using Aqua for their water,” Mahaney said.
So far, two neighbors are completely without water. The rest of the residents along Norwood Oaks believe it’s just a matter of days before everyone else is dry too.
“I don’t know and that’s a scary thing,” resident Neal Franks said.
Norwood Oaks resident George Kavelak has been monitoring the water levels in his private well and others in the area daily for the past 15 months. He said he has seen a steady decline in water, and now sees only 25 feet of water in the 400-foot deep well.
Kavelak said he would like to see county commissioners put some mandatory conservation measures in place.
Wake County's Environmental Services Division is investigating why the wells are dry. County officials said the wells are expected to be lower than normal in drought conditions, but not down to the level that they are in Norwood Oaks.
The county said a large pumping source is drawing on the private wells between midnight and noon everyday – a pattern that's apparently consistent with utility companies.
“They want to have their water system fully pressurized in the morning when customers arise and get ready for work,” Wake County Environmental Services Director Tommy Esqueda said.
As part of their investigation into a possible well interference, Esqueda said investigators have requested information about Aqua’s pumping stations in the area.
The county passed an ordinance last year stating that any well that is determined to be a source of well interference to adjacent water supply wells could be a declared a public health nuisance.
With no end in sight, people have been bringing in bottled water for household activities.