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Wake County Leaders Evaluate Future Water Challenges

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RALEIGH, N.C. — As Wake County continues to grow, so does demand on the water supply.

"It is a more complex issue than it sometimes appears, and that water and wastewater are becoming more and more integrated," said Cary Water Resource Manager Leila Goodwin.

County leaders are planning at least 30 years ahead to keep up. At a Blue Ribbon committee meeting on Monday, some water experts explained what it would take to continue providing water and sewer systems, especially with rapidly expanding areas east and west of Raleigh.

"We're going to have to very carefully think about how we want the growth to occur and plan for that, so we can meet the infrastructure needs and meet the environmental requirements coming out of the state," said Goodwin.

Officials already have plans that include expanding and building new water treatment plants, adding new reservoirs to the system.

"They're hugely expensive projects," said Raleigh Public Utilities Director Dale Crisp. "The plan for that, of course, is for that to be paid for by an incremental increase in our water and sewer rates."

Right now, low rainfall and predictions of a dry spring have leaders in the Raleigh area concerned about the current supply. They say conservation will be key to keeping things on track.

"The only thing that is a concern is the unusual weather that we seem to be getting," said Crisp. "Certainly the plan is based on normal weather conditions."

Water management officials say environmental restrictions and permitting the process is getting tougher. They say that's why it's important to plan for expanding the water supply decades in advance.


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