Local News

Raleigh, Durham Move Ahead With Water Plans

Posted November 9, 2007 1:44 p.m. EST

— The Army Corps of Engineers has approved a plan to divert water from nearby lakes into the Neuse River to conserve Raleigh's dwindling water supply in Falls Lake.

Meanwhile, Durham officials have outlined a plan to tap a former quarry to provide more drinking water to city residents.

Raleigh officials recently proposed pumping water from Lake Wheeler and Lake Benson into the Neuse River through a new sewer pump station and about 10 miles of sewer main. Because the pump station and sewer lines have never been used before, officials said, there was little risk of adverse environmental impacts.

The water from the two lakes would allow the Corps to cut the flow of water from Falls Lake without diminishing the water available in the Neuse River for communities downstream. Officials said it could add up to three weeks to the available water supply in Falls Lake.

The lake, which is more than 8 feet below normal, has at least 113 days of drinking water remaining, officials said.

Lake Wheeler and Lake Benson can be lowered no more than 10 feet each by the pumping plan, officials said.

In Durham, officials are scrambling to put pumps and pipes in place to draw water from an abandoned quarry.

The quarry, which is off Denfield Street in north Durham, holds an estimated 520 million gallons of water, which would last the city about 22 days, officials said. The city's two primary reservoirs, Lake Michie and Little River, have enough water combined to last 72 days, officials said.

A pipeline that carries water from Lake Michie to Durham's water treatment plant runs near the quarry, officials said they would to pump water from the quarry into that line.