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To provide reliable, high quality drinking water to the communities of Chatham County, the Town of Pittsboro, the City of Durham, and OWASA, thereby helping to sustain the Triangle region’s quality of life.
The Partnership was established in 2014. Since then, Chatham County, the City of Durham, the Town of Pittsboro, and OWASA have worked together to explore and develop a regional solution to ensure their long-term water supply needs are collectively met.
Chatham County, the City of Durham, the Town of Pittsboro, and the OWASA are members of the partnership.
Water will be withdrawn from the western side of Jordan Lake. Then the water will be treated and provided to regional water distribution systems. Preliminary details are shown in the map below. Locations of interconnections to Partner water distribution systems are being evaluated and subject to change. Hover over the numbers for more details.
Before it even existed, Jordan Lake was planned as a source for regional water supply. The Towns of Cary and Apex have a shared water intake on Jordan Lake. They have supplied Jordan Lake’s water to the residents of Chatham County and the City of Durham for years.
The Triangle region is growing and the demand for water is increasing. The State of North Carolina controls which utilities receive water supply allocations from Jordan Lake based on their forecasted future water needs. In 2017, the Partnership received a water supply allocation from Jordan Lake. This will support our mission to continue to provide reliable, high quality drinking water to the Triangle region.
The vision for this Project began before Jordan Lake was constructed in the 1970s and 1980s. Jordan Lake is a vital regional resource that was constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for many purposes. These included supplying water to surrounding communities, controlling flooding and water quality, conserving fish and wildlife habitats, and providing recreational opportunities for the region.
In 1989, one of the partners (OWASA) purchased property for the purposes of installing a water intake and water treatment plant. Shortly after, studies for a raw water intake facility on the western side of Jordan Lake began in the 1990s.
Projections show the Western Intake Partnership projects could provide on a peak day:
The Western Intake Partnership aims to withdraw, transport, and treat water from Jordan Lake and deliver high quality drinking water to customers within the Cape Fear River Basin. The water will be returned to the basin after use. The water supply was anticipated in the design of the reservoir and thoroughly studied and vetted during the NCDWR water supply allocation process. Click the button below for more information on the water supply allocation.
The Partnership is performing an environmental review. This review will identify any potential environmental impacts of the Project. Findings from the review will be submitted for regulatory approval. This is a permitting process through the U.S, Army Corps of Engineers, the NC Department of Environmental Quality, and Chatham and Durham Counties, with numerous other reviewing and commenting agencies. Quality and sustainability are core values of the Partnership. We are committed to being a good steward of the environment and our communities.
The Project’s water treatment facility (WTF) will treat the water to meet all required drinking water standards before reaching customers’ homes. The water transmission pipelines will also meet federal, state, and local requirements to ensure water quality.
Additionally, the Partners are committed to treating compounds of emerging concern, such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and 1,4-dioxane. These compounds are not yet regulated, though regulation is anticipated in the future. These compounds are occasionally detected in Jordan Lake at extremely low concentrations (parts per trillion, or ppt – one ppt is equivalent to one grain of sugar in an Olympic-sized swimming pool). The Partners are planning to incorporate advanced treatment technologies at the WTF to address these compounds of emerging concern.
The Partners are currently collaborating on an interlocal agreement which will define how the WIP facilities and infrastructure will be designed, constructed, and operated. While the financing of individual Partners’ participation in the WIP projects may differ, financing of project costs would typically be through utility reserves, bonds, commercial debt, or a combination of these funding sources. Bonds or debt would be repaid from utility rate and fee revenues, in the normal manner of utility enterprise funds. Property taxes would not be used to fund this project.
While there is no formal link between the WIP water supply project and Jordan Lake One Water (JLOW), the WIP Partners have been active participants in the JLOW regional collaboration of state, local government, non-governmental organizations, agriculture, and development stakeholders, since the early days of the JLOW organization. JLOW seeks to produce integrated watershed management recommendations, which would be implemented within the state’s regulatory framework as well as directly by stakeholders.
Planning for wastewater service to residents in eastern Chatham County is outside the WIP project. No wastewater sewer service is being planned in conjunction with the WIP Project. Chatham County is not a wastewater service provider. Towns and developers will be responsible to install, own and operate wastewater treatment plants and/or septic field systems.
The design of Jordan Lake includes 45,800 acre-ft of storage designated for water supply in the lake’s conservation pool, between elevations 216 ft and 202 ft. At the State of North Carolina’s request, this storage was designed to reliably supply 100 million gallons per day of water supply to support the Triangle region’s communities. The conservation pool includes both water supply and low-flow augmentation.
As part of the State’s evaluation process to allocate Jordan Lake water supply to the WIP Partners and others in 2015-2016, the State of North Carolina developed a computer model for the Cape Fear River and Neuse River basins, to analyze impacts of the proposed water supply allocations. In its report, the State concluded fully allocating the Jordan Lake water supply storage pool would not significantly affect water levels in the lake or downstream in the Cape Fear River. Specifically, lake levels in the most significant periods of drought may be 1-2 ft lower in a future year when water withdrawals reach the full allocated amounts.
The Triangle region experiences occasional periods of drought and heavy rainfall. The most recent droughts of record occurred in 2001-02 and 2007-08. Lake levels will continue to vary in the future as they do today. The US Army Corps of Engineers manages Jordan Lake to minimize the impact of these variations, and utilities have water shortage response plans to conserve water during periods of drought. The State’s 2016 modeling report acknowledges these natural variations will continue to occur, but it concludes that even with increased use of Jordan Lake water supply, the lake’s storage is resilient enough to meet its water supply, recreational and habitat purposes if more extreme drought conditions occur.
The State of North Carolina controls and monitors water supply allocations from Jordan Lake. North Carolina General Statute 143-354(a)(11) authorizes the State’s Environmental Management Commission to allocate Jordan Lake water supply storage to local governments based on need and the commitment to pay a share of associated capital, interest, administrative and operating costs, in proportion to their water supply storage allocations. The most recent round of Jordan Lake water supply allocations was completed in 2017; with this round, the State had allocated more than 91 percent of the available Jordan Lake water supply storage pool, with 9 percent of the water supply storage available to be allocated in the future.
This idea is being investigated, but a decision has not yet been reached on the question of water supply availability to residents near locations where WIP facilities are being constructed.
The proposed site of the water treatment facility is located on a parcel owned by the Orange Water and Sewer Authority at the southeast corner of the intersection of Seaforth Road and North Pea Ridge Road, west of Jordan Lake and south of US Highway 64.
USACE owns the reservoir and lands immediately surrounding Jordan Lake. Portions of the lands around the lake are leased by USACE to the State of North Carolina to be managed by State agencies for recreation, forestry, and wildlife management. As with privately-held lands, a public infrastructure project must obtain permission (an easement) to locate facilities and pipelines on USACE lands.
Engineering studies are now underway and will continue until 2024. Detailed design would begin in 2024. While we haven’t reached the stage of design where the details of the noise, lighting, and vibrations that may be associated with the operation of the water treatment plant, we can share that the Partnership desires the facility to be a good neighbor to the surrounding community, and we plan to incorporate design features to address noise and lighting impacts offsite.
The WIP is conducting an engineering study to determine the water treatment processes to be used for the Regional Water Treatment Facility. Granular activated carbon (GAC) can be useful for treating seasonal increases in algal compounds as well as contaminants of emerging concern like per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Preliminarily, the Regional Water Treatment Facility is expected to incorporate the ability to feed GAC in the treatment process.
The WIP is conducting an engineering study to determine the water treatment processes to be used for the Regional Water Treatment Facility, and treatment for PFAS and emerging contaminants is part of that study. The pending regulation of PFAS and other emerging contaminants will clarify the requirements for the associated water treatment process to achieve state and federal regulations.
The WIP is partnering with the Town of Cary to conduct a pilot study of the effectiveness of a range of treatment technologies for PFAS and other emerging contaminants specifically for Jordan Lake water supply, at the Cary-Apex Water Treatment Facility. The study is being conducted February – December 2023.
In its Jordan Lake Water Supply Allocation Recommendations report, the State of North Carolina concluded that another raw water intake will be required to make optimal use of the water storage for which the State contracted with the USACE. Currently, the Cary-Apex water supply intake is the only one on Jordan Lake. The current raw water intake structure and its associated pumping station does not have the capacity to withdraw all the water associated with peak withdrawals for an average annual withdrawal of 100 million gallons per day.
Resiliency of water supply from Jordan Lake is another factor favoring construction of a second water intake. It is best-practice to have redundancies in major infrastructure elements, for example if the Cary-Apex water intake needed to be taken out of service.
More than 30 years ago, in 1991, OWASA completed studies to determine the best location for an additional water supply intake on Jordan Lake. The study found that the best location was on the west side of the lake, near the Vista Point State Recreation Area south of US 64 and north of the "Narrows." Factors favoring this location included water supply availability, a short distance from the deepest part of the lake to shore, and available options to minimize environmental, economic and recreational impacts.
After conducting an updated study for the WIP in 2022, the Hazen and Sawyer consulting team evaluated alternative intake options and how each impacts the public, both on the lake and within Vista Point State Recreation Area. This recent study had access to additional information that was not part of the original 1991 study, including lake modeling and long-term water quality trends in this part of Jordan Lake, including for PFAS, 1,4-dioxane, and other emerging contaminants. The updated study confirmed the 1991 recommendation.
No other site alternative provides its combination of benefits. The Western Intake Partnership will continue coordinating with the appropriate North Carolina and Federal agencies about the water intake location and any potential impacts.
The untreated water pump station will be located on property owned by OWASA, near Vista Point
The untreated water transmission line will be located between the water intake on Jordan Lake and the water treatment facility. To minimize impacts on Vista Point State Recreation Area, it is likely much of the untreated water transmission line will be tunneled. This study is expected to be completed in early 2024, including recommendations on untreated water transmission line route and preliminary engineering.
A WIP preliminary engineering study is underway which has developed alternative routes for the treated water transmission pipelines. Using hydraulic modeling and preliminary assessments of cost and environmental/ cultural/ historic resource considerations for each alternative, the Partners have identified some of these routes for further study. Beginning in April 2023, the Project team will perform exploratory fieldwork in the area, focusing on subsurface geotechnical conditions and environmental/ cultural/ historical/ environmental justice considerations to determine the preferred route for the treated and untreated water transmission lines. This study is expected to be completed in early 2024, including recommended treated water transmission line route and preliminary engineering.
The WIP preliminary engineering study of the transmission pipeline project elements is underway. The study will provide preliminary guidance on transmission line pipe sizing, based on hydraulic modeling analysis of the system requirements. Factors driving pipe size include flow requirements, pressure, and intermediate storage tanks. The study is expected to be completed in early 2024.
Several technical approaches are available to construct pipeline stream crossings, including horizontal directional drilling, tunneling, and open cut construction. Recommendations for each crossing will be based on cost and non-cost technical factors, as well as the Partners’ goal to avoid and minimize permanent wetland impacts when feasible. The WIP preliminary engineering study of the transmission pipeline project elements is underway and is expected to be completed in early 2024.