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Raleigh Considers Recycled Water for Irrigation

Wastewater could soon be put to use helping the lawns of Raleigh's biggest and smaller water customers stay green during drought conditions.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Used water could soon help area lawns stay green during drought conditions.

Raleigh engineers are designing a 17-mile pipeline that would pump some treated wastewater through the city for outdoor irrigation and other uses. The City Council and state environmental regulators would have to approve the $21 million plan before it could be put in place.

"Reclaimed water in North Carolina is treated wastewater," said Ken Waldroup, construction projects administrator for the city's Department of Public Utilities. "It can be used for irrigation, street sweeping, processed cooling water, possibly toilet flushing."

The reuse water could not be used for drinking or cooking.

The city discharges all of its treated wastewater into the Neuse River. Waldroup said plans call for building a pump station near the wastewater treatment plant on Battle Bridge Road southeast of Raleigh, and then pumping a fraction of the wastewater back through a system that would extend to North Carolina State University's Centennial Campus.

Plans call for the pump station to be operating by December 2009.

The goal is to connect some of the biggest water users in the city to the pipeline.

Centennial Campus, the Walnut Creek Amphitheatre, a few golf courses and animal feed manufacturer Cargill Inc. already have agreed to tap the line once it is put in place, Waldroup said. The city was talking with WakeMed, Wake Technical Community College and several schools about following suit.

Raleigh residents near the pipeline also might be able to tap into the system, he said.

"We're developing programs to help average users retrofit," he said. "As the city grows and development occurs, developers are welcome to incorporate this into irrigation and construction plans."

Outdoor watering with sprinklers has been banned in Raleigh since October in an effort to conserve as much of the city's dwindling water supply as possible. Waldroup said it is possible people using reclaimed water wouldn't face such restrictions.

Cary has been recycling about 1 million gallons of treated wastewater a day for irrigation since 2001. The town also is working on a project to pipe used water to the Wake County portion of Research Triangle Park.

"It really helps in the drought because it saves on the amount of water we have to pump from Jordan Lake," Cary Utilities Director Robert Bonne said.


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