Local News

Towns May Have To Tap Into Raleigh's Water System

Posted May 2, 2003 4:41 a.m. EDT

— Wake Forest, Knightdale, Zebulon and Wendell all have a big decision to make -- either tap into Raleigh's water system or expand their own plants. Raleigh says it can reduce the rate everyone in its system pays, but it could take up to 10 years.

In Wake Forest, the town reservoir was built in the 1950s, but has since outgrown it. Wake Forest can build a new plant or they can merge with Raleigh.

"The bottom line in a merger situation, this is not a merger but an acquisition," said George Rogers, water and sewer director. "They would own the treatment systems. They would own the pipes. They would own the resource."

Rogers said in the short-term, water would cost more if Wake Forest builds its own plant, but he said the town would lose control.

"There's more to it than the cost of the water although it's very important. There's service and the autonomy that the town would lose if they lose the ability to direct the development of their water supply," he said.

One thousand gallons of water in Raleigh costs $1.52. In Wake Forest, that same thousand gallons costs $2.44, almost a dollar more. Many say it is time to start looking to merge with Raleigh.

"It would seem to me that just out of economies of scale that if you combined systems, you could, in fact, achieve lower rates and if that turns out to be the case with a potential merger with Raleigh, then we need to look seriously at it," said Don Stroud of the water and sewer task force.

Town leaders say they have to make a decision on how the water flows by August. Wake Forest has a permit to take water from the Neuse River and expand its current plant. That plan could cost homeowners a 14 percent increase in their water bill.