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Wake County Towns Want More Water, Downstream Neighbors Worry

A picture of running tap water.

State environmental officials will decide this week whether to allow Cary, Apex, Morrisville and other Wake County communities to have an additional nine million gallons of water per day. 

They say they need it to serve their rapidly growing communities. They want more treated water moved from Jordan Lake into the Neuse River Basin instead of sending it to the Cape Fear River Basin.

Tom Fransen is Water Planning Section Chief for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

“If they don't get this inter-basin transfer, they're gonna have to get water from somewhere else,” Fransen says.

“And there really aren't many sources available for then in the Neuse not to do a transfer.”

Down river, public utilities in Fayetteville and Wilmington say their own future water resources are not guaranteed. They're worried about potential shortages.

Fransen says permit have a “reopener clause” that allows officials to change conditions as needed.

“Say, for example, Fayetteville or Wilmington had a much larger need for water or our estimates and the capacity of Jordan Lake or something were off, we could come back and re open the certificate to accommodate for those new changes if they should occur at some point in the future.”

Fransen says that hasn’t happened before.

The state Water Allocation Committee will review the Wake County communities requests today. The Environmental Management Commission will vote on the plan tomorrow.  

Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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