Via StarNews: “Proposal calls for study of Cape Fear River water usages, future demands”

RALEIGH | As communities grow throughout the Cape Fear River¬†basin, a bill recently introduced in the N.C. General Assembly calls for a study of how rising water demands will affect the basin’s long-term supply.

House Bill 186, also called the Cape Fear Water Resources Availability Study, asks the state Environmental Review Commission to study the 50-year demands of 25 counties in the basin, as well as potential water use conflicts. The study would look at surface water and groundwater supplies, and would make recommendations to help counties coordinate their water use.

Some local officials say the study is an important step toward securing water resources for lower Cape Fear communities. Increasing use upriver, they say, could someday strain the water supply in Pender, New Hanover and Brunswick counties.

Rep. Rick Catlin, R-New Hanover, introduced the bill March 10. He said part of the inspiration was the state Environmental Management Commission’s decision March 12 to let some Wake County municipalities draw an additional 9 million gallons of water per day from Jordan Lake, which flows into the Cape Fear. The change to the interbasin transfer agreement would allow Cary, Apex, Morrisville and Wake County to draw 38 percent more water than the 24 million gallons they were previously allowed.

“I was hoping that this legislation would convince them to delay that decision, but it did not,” Catlin said.

He said he has concerns that growth in areas like Wake County could leave less water available to downriver areas.

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