Local News

Rains Raise Raleigh, Durham Reservoirs

Posted March 5, 2008 11:56 a.m. EST
Updated March 6, 2008 9:27 a.m. EST

— The level of Falls Lake increased by more than a foot between Tuesday and Wednesday mornings and continued to rise Thursday, thanks to after a powerful storm system moved across North Carolina, officials said.

The system, which dropped 2 inches of rain at Raleigh-Durham International Airport and more than an inch across most of the Triangle, also filled one of Durham's reservoirs and dented the deficit in the other.

Falls Lake, which serves as Raleigh's primary reservoir, was about 6½ feet below normal Wednesday morning after hovering close to 8 feet below normal in recent weeks.

"Short of the lake filling up in one event, which is highly unlikely, this is a very good thing," said Ed Buchan, water conservation specialist for Raleigh's Public Utilities Department. "It's very positive. It's not going to recover the lake entirely, but it's a good trend."

Heavy rains in northern Durham and Orange counties and in Person County could continue to feed the headwaters of Falls Lake for the next day or so, Buchan said.

"The lake's still low," said Andy Gooch, owner of Rollingview Marina on the lake. "We've got a long ways to go, but this is a nice start."

Other factors could raise the lake level even higher:

  • The Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the lake, on Monday cut the releases into the Neuse River by about 17 million gallons a day.
  • Tougher water restrictions imposed by Raleigh almost three weeks ago have reduced consumption by about 3 million gallons a day.
  • Cool weather limits the amount of water in the lake lost to evaporation.

WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said another system will move across North Carolina Friday and early Saturday and could dump more rain on the region.

Lake Michie, one of Durham's two reservoirs, was filled after Tuesday's rains, and water was flowing over the dam Wednesday, officials said. The Little River Reservoir remains almost 12 feet below normal, but its water levels had been down almost 20 feet in recent weeks.

Durham has enough drinking water to last 295 days – almost 10 months – between the two reservoirs and Teer Quarry, which officials had tapped in January to provide additional capacity.

“The inflow we received into our reservoirs is encouraging, but it certainly doesn’t mean we are out of the woods in regard to the ongoing drought,” Durham City Manager Patrick Baker said in a statement.

Levels at Jordan Lake and Kerr Lake, which also serve as reservoirs to various communities across the region, also increased by about a half-foot each after Tuesday night's storms, WRAL Meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said.

Lake Levels on March 6, 2008
LakeNormal LevelCurrent Level
Kerr Lake Dam in Va.300298.5
Jordan Lake216218.8
Falls Lake251.5245.8