Local News

Rains Boost Raleigh, Durham Water Supplies

Posted December 31, 2007 11:31 a.m. EST
Updated December 31, 2007 6:54 p.m. EST

— Rains over the past week have added more than three weeks to Raleigh's and Durham's water supplies, officials said Monday.

Raleigh was a day away from implementing tougher water restrictions last week. Now, those restrictions might not come before February.

The soaking the region received Sunday added almost a month to the drinking water supply in Falls Lake, Raleigh's primary reservoir, said Ed Buchan, a water conservation specialist with the city's Department of Public Utilities.

Raleigh – and the Wake County towns that buy water from the city – now has more than 120 days of available water in the lake, up from 91 on Christmas Day before two rounds of rain in recent days. The city was prepared to implement bans on outdoor watering and pressure washing and close many local car washes if the water supply in Falls Lake dropped to 90 days.

"We put a dent in the rain deficit," Buchan said. "We're ecstatic. We really are pleased with this, but again, not to put a damper on this, we're not out of the woods yet."

Heavy rains in Durham, Orange and Granville counties were especially beneficial, he said, because they fed streams that pour into Falls Lake. The lake is 8.61 feet below normal levels, but is more than a foot above the all-time low it reached on Christmas.

The Durham rains also added 24 days of drinking water to the Bull City's supply.

Lake Michie and the Little River Reservoir, Durham's primary reservoirs, had a combined 60 days of premium water on Monday, according to the city's Web site. That level was up from 36 days combined last week.

Crews were expected to continue putting pipe in place this week to enable the city to tap an abandoned quarry for additional water. The 600 million gallons in the Teer Quarry is expected to provide an extra 30 days of drinking water.

City officials also have discussed doubling the amount of water Durham buys from Cary, to about 3.6 million gallons a day.

Meanwhile, the rains boosted the levels of the Rocky River Reservoir enough in Siler City that town officials lifted mandatory water restrictions Monday.

But Mayor Charles Turner requested that people continue voluntary conservation efforts until the reservoir returns to normal levels.

Siler City was in a water emergency in October, as the supply of drinking water in the Rocky River Reservoir dropped to about 65 days. Local poultry plants began trucking in water from Jordan Lake, and town officials put a rush on building a $1 million water supply pipeline from Sanford.

Rains over the past week have restored the reservoir to 3½ feet below normal levels, officials said in a statement.

Officials said residents and businesses should refrain from outdoor watering, washing cars and pressure washing and should try to conserve as much water as possible on a daily basis.