Local News

Rolesville, Raleigh mayors exchange words over water

Posted May 29, 2008 4:47 p.m. EDT
Updated May 30, 2008 6:24 a.m. EDT

— The mayor of Wake County's smallest town is questionintg how Raleigh allocates water to smaller, neighboring towns.

Rolesville Mayor Frank Eagles said Thursday that Raleigh often acts more as a controller of water to the six Wake towns whose water systems it runs, rather than as the operator of those systems.

"I think if Rolesville had to do it over again, we would think real seriously about doing the merger agreement with Raleigh," Eagles said.

The Rolesville mayor said customers on Raleigh's water system need to have more input in how they are allowed  to use water. The six towns must operate under water restrictions that Raleigh's city government determines.

Rolesville is expected to have tremendous growth – some estimates have its population tripling in the next three to five years – and the town needs the flexibility to deal with that growth, its mayor said.

"We want to grow, and Raleigh is actually restricting our growth," Eagles said.

The town and city clashed over water in 2006, when Raleigh told Rolesville it could not extend water lines to the Lakes of Rolesville, a new subdivision about a mile north of town.

Raleigh officials said they blocked the move because  the subdivision lies within the Little River watershed, where they are trying to discourage growth to protect the water quality. Extending water lines there would encourage growth, they said.

"When it comes to protection of our watershed and our water supplies, Raleigh's not going to be pushed around," Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said.

Meeker pointed out that the smaller towns also have an incentive to protect the Little River watershed: A planned reservoir there could add 20 million gallons a day to Raleigh's water system.

Joe Bryan, the chair of the Wake County commissioners, said he believes the dispute stems from a perceived disconnect among some of Raleigh's water customers.

"They just kind of want a place at the table," Bryan said.

Meeker said that the city is always ready to listen and that if other towns feel as if their partnership with Raleigh has been damaged, the city wants to fix it.

Eagle said his town could look to Franklin County as a future water provider if the municipality's differences are not worked out.