Talks Hit Snag Over Bear Creek Use for County Water Supply
Using water from the Robbins area to help supply the county’s growing demand may have hit a state-mandated snag.
Moore County Commissioners Craig Kennedy and Nick Picerno, County Manager Cary McSwain, Robbins Mayor Lonnie English and others recently met with state environmental officials to discuss the county’s future water supply in connection with the Robbins reservoir.
State Sen. Jerry Tillman was also present at the Raleigh meeting, along with Moore County Public Works Director Randy Gould.
“We went to Raleigh seeking facts, and were primarily looking at Robbins as a base alternative to the county’s water issues,” Gould said. “We feel like we got to first base on four to five of the alternatives, and we’re now trying to get to second.”
Moore County officials had at one time proposed that the Robbins town commissioners authorize construction of a new treatment plant that would draw water from Bear Creek and later from Deep River, a system that would fill the reservoir at Robbins and supply the plant.
But Gould said that the water flow through Bear Creek is relatively low, and the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources officials would not allow the county to draw as much from that source as it had wanted.
The state would allow about 50,000 gallons a day taken from the creek, whereas an old permit had allowed 1.5 million gallons per day.
“Downstream conditions need to be protected, and the old permit to Robbins has been decommissioned,” Gould said.
Gould had previously outlined both a 10-year and a 30-year plan to access Bear Creek and Deep River water. The 10-year plan would have required a new water plant and pump, a new raw water intake and two pump upgrades, and the creation of several major water lines at a projected cost of $14.1 million.
But the new restrictions, Kennedy said, would make this plan ineffective.
“Although we had a very positive meeting with a great turnout from the Department of Water Quality personnel, we were disappointed that we were not able to get what we were previously permitted from Bear Creek,” he said. “What we can get from Deep River is encouraging, though, and we can supplement what we need from Bear Creek.”
A process called “high flow skimming” is a possibility for days when the creek has a heavy flow.
“Fifty thousand per day is the amount allowed on a normal day, but in times of heavy rains, for example, we would be allowed to take more,” Kennedy said.
He added that withdrawing water from Deep River is “a good option” despite stringent requirements from state officials.
“We will need a permit for withdrawal, engineering fees, consulting fees and more to begin the permit approval process. With about 13 different agencies involved, it’s going to take time. Still, I believe that in the grand scheme we need to go ahead and pursue the Robbins option.”
Gould agreed with Kennedy’s assessment.
“Robbins has had a maximum use of 400,000 gallons a day for the past few years, and if we got 3.4 million gallons a day from Deep River, that would give the county three million for Seven Lakes, Pinehurst and the areas in between,” he said. “This is a two- to three-year process.”
With the focus now on Deep River, Gould’s 30-year plan for the county is still a possible option.
In a previous interview, Gould said that a 30-year Robbins plan “would require another 16-inch main line along Beulah Hill Road to Seven Lakes. A new million-gallon tank on N.C. 73 and a 16-inch line along that state highway east of Seven Lakes would also be created.
‘The 30-year plan would produce an additional 3.3 million gallons a day that would satisfy an estimated county demand of 2.65 million gallons a day by 2040,” he said.
The plan would cost Moore County $15.1 million.
Contact John Lentz at (910) 693-2479 or jlentz@thepilot. com.
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