Local News

Water Plans Could Mean Water War Over Kerr Lake

Posted March 13, 2008 7:40 p.m. EDT
Updated March 13, 2008 11:21 p.m. EDT

— Although it's almost 50 miles from the Triangle, Kerr Lake, in Henderson, could be a future water source for Raleigh, Cary, Durham and Granville County – much to the dismay of some who live on the lake.

"I fell in love with that lake and Roanoke River Basin resource," said Gene Addesso, who lives in Raleigh but also owns a house on the Virginia side of the lake.

Addesso also is the vice president of the Roanoke River Basin Association, a nonprofit organization that looks out for the best interests of residents who live in the Basin.

"The Roanoke River Basis is a system from the headwaters to the sound," Addesso said. "Any part of it that you affect affects another part of the system."

He says that means the lower the level of Kerr Lake, the lower the level of Lake Gaston.

That's part of why he is concerned that the Triangle communities are considering the lake and that the Army Corps of Engineers is studying how much water they could use.

"Raleigh and the surrounding area are growing quickly, and our needs may be substantial if we look down the road 30, 50 or 70 years," Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said.

About 15 years ago, the Kerr Lake community was in a legal battle with the City of Virginia Beach. Virginia Beach won the lawsuit and has infrastructure that can provide a potential of up to 60 million gallons of water from the lake every day.

If Raleigh ends up using the lake, too, it would have to build the infrastructure, and that could cost more than $700 million. And that is a 2002 estimate that is likely to be higher today.

Raleigh Public Utilities Director Dale Crisp says the city would have to prove it needs the water and also prove there are enough resources that would allow for water to be pumped from the lake.

"If there's truly an unallocated water supply resource there, then I don't understand why there would be concern about it," Crisp said.

But Addesso says there's a definite concern about it – protecting the precious resource right in his own back yard.

Raleigh leaders say there's no timetable when the Army Corps of Engineers will complete its study of Kerr Lake.