Local News

Raleigh Debates Expanding Water Line to Zebulon

Posted January 28, 2008 7:36 p.m. EST
Updated January 28, 2008 11:28 p.m. EST

— A development project being considered in Zebulon would extend water service along the Johnston and Wake county line.

As the continuing drought adds pressure for strict conservation measures, some Wake County residents are questioning if it is the right time for a water-line expansion.

Levels in Falls Lake have dropped 8½ feet below normal, and officials believe Raleigh's normal allocation of water from Falls Lake, which serves as the city's primary reservoir, will last only until mid-May.

Zebulon is one of six Wake County communities that buy water and sewer  service from Raleigh.

“And you look down at the entire area and you say, 'My gosh! It is everywhere,'” Raleigh Council Member Rodger Koopman said.

“I guess it would be a much easier decision if the lake were full,” Zebulon Town Manager Rick Hardin said.

Hardin asked Raleigh to allow an extension of water and sewer service to about 85 acres of land in Johnston County along the Wake County border.

“It would be a significant development. We're talking about an expansion of our tax base, the creation of new jobs,” Hardin said.

Some Raleigh residents are asking if the water-line extension should go forward while they are forced to cut back on usage.

“They cannot just keep developing and expect us to just simply furnish the water. We have a crisis. It's a regional problem,” Koopman said.

“It's the worst drought conditions in North Carolina in over 100 years. So that requires some unusual things, but doesn't necessarily mean that you change your long-term policies for water supply,” Raleigh City Manager Russell Allen said.

Allen said Zebulon would not max out its allocated water usage, even with the Zebulon expansion.

Koopman argued approval would set a bad precedent.

The argument would be, “Well, he was allowed to do it. Why can't I?” Koopman said.

Hardin said the project would be a minor expansion of water use. Even with the drought, he said, the economic impact is too good to pass up.

Raleigh's Department of Public Utilities could make a recommendation about the expansion to the City Council sometime this week.