New Agreement Increases Water Supply to Meet City's Needs Through 2047

News posted Mar. 05, 2019 - 3:30 pm
Drinking Water Agreement

A new agreement between the City and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) increases the available supply of drinking water from Falls Lake, the City’s primary water source. The additional 17,300 acre-feet of storage, equal to 22 million gallons of water per day, is expected to meet the City’s drinking water demands through 2047.

Mayor Nancy McFarlane recognized partners in this 13-year effort during today’s City Council meeting. “A big part of our job on Council is looking to the future," Mayor McFarlane said. "Without the foresight of others, Raleigh would not be the City it is today.”

A 13-Year Effort

In 2006, the City of Raleigh began an effort to secure new water resources for its customers. From 2006 to 2012, the City studied numerous options and alternatives for new water supply, including new reservoirs and water supplies as far away as the coast of North Carolina. In 2012, the City narrowed that search to Falls Lake, where storage might be available for additional drinking water supply.

By June of 2015 the City had developed a partnership with the United States Army Corps of Engineers to study future water supply options at Falls Lake. Lead by a team from the Wilmington District of the South Atlantic Division (SAD) of the Corps, a complex and comprehensive study was undertaken. In January 2017, the Corps, again led by Wilmington District team, determined that a reallocation of storage in Falls Lake was both feasible and advisable. On January 24, 2019, Mr. R.D. James, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, signed a contract granting the City of Raleigh additional storage in Falls Lake.

The Wilmington District of the SAD-USACE is led by Colonel Robert J. Clark, who shared the following:

“The partnership between the City of Raleigh, Wake County Commissioners, and the Corps was instrumental in evaluating and determining the water resources for the city of Raleigh. The city of Raleigh is leaning very far forward showing a great deal of foresight about what their water future is going to look like, so this makes their water future much more sustainable."

The Falls Lake water supply reallocation had many champions; the Wake County Water Partnership and the Wake County Board of Commissioners, the communities served by the City of Raleigh Public Utilities Department, the Downtown Raleigh Alliance and the members of the Jordan Lake Partnership. The Wake County Board of Commissioners added the reallocation to their legislative agenda and actively advocated for the reallocation with the North Carolina Congressional Delegation.

Falls Lake has played an essential role in providing a reliable water supply to Raleigh for many years. Mayor Thomas Bradshaw, Jr. signed the original contract for water supply from Falls Lake almost five decades ago, on February 24, 1972. Former Mayor Bradshaw was also in attendance and was recognized for his longstanding support of the City’s water resource planning.

Now, 47 years after the City first acquired water from Falls Lake, this water body continues to provide for the future growth of Raleigh and its partner communities.

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