Little River Reprieve

With almost no fanfare at all the City of Raleigh Public Utility Department announced that the proposed Little River Reservoir would be delayed for at least two years.  This delay does not rescue the Little River from the ranks of America’s Most Endangered Rivers™. It merely gives us more time to work to convince the leaders of Raleigh that the best way to secure reliable water supplies into the future is through water efficiency. 

The delay in the project has been caused by new requirements that the EPA issued mid-summer for approval of new drinking water impoundments.  The EPA announced that they would not allow these projects to move forward if the communities that would be served by the new impoundment did not first aggressively pursue water efficiency.  The policies and practices EPA identifies as critical to pursue mirror very closely to our own recommendations laid out in the Hidden Reservoir report. 

This comprehensive evaluation and implementation of water efficiency by Raleigh should identify areas of water waste and save enough pure drinking water that the plans Little River Reservoir can be shelved indefinitely.  Raleigh is in the process of expanding water treatment capacity at several locations and by 2015 will have up to 140,000,000 gallons per day available to use without the Little River Reservoir.  Current water use is close to 80 million gallons per day or 180 gallons per person per day, if the Raleigh water system can reduce water use to a very achievable 110 gallons per person per day through water efficiency (some people can get their water use down to 60-65 gallons per day, including showers each day and laundry) there would be plenty of pure fresh water.  Even with the projected doubling of the population in Raleigh, if water use dropped to 110 gallons per person per day in 2050 that would only be 99 million gallons per day- far below the expected capacity of the system.  Through water efficiency the city will be able to have reliable water and the community resource that the Little River is will be protected for generations to come.