If Fuquay-Varina continues to grow at its current pace, it could run out of water capacity in less than a decade.
A report presented during the March 21 meeting of the town’s Board of Commissioners showed that expected population growth could overwhelm the town’s water supply in as little as seven years.
The past two years brought record-breaking numbers of building permits in Fuquay-Varina, a sign that growth is still accelerating.
“And with the way 2017 is starting off, it seems like we might be closer to that seven-year figure,” Town Manager Adam Mitchell said. “Our growth patterns seem to be trending higher. If that’s the case, we need to be starting today with selecting solutions and going through that process.”
The town currently gets its water – 5.25 million gallons per day – from Harnett County, Johnston County, Holly Springs and Raleigh. Three million gallons of that allocation come from the Neuse River Basin, and the rest is drawn from the Cape Fear River.
On an average day in 2016, the town used 2.1 million gallons of water. On its highest water-use day, the town used 3.1 million gallons.
In 2025, the number could speak to 5.4 million gallons daily. The town expects its population to top 37,000 that year.
Consulting firm Freese and Nichols, which completed the study, recommends that the town build its own water treatment plant or consider buying more water from a fifth source, the town of Sanford.
Sanford’s water system is 15 miles away from a branch of Fuquay-Varina’s system.
Mitchell said he and town staff will return to the town board soon to ask for money for a second phase of the study to decide which option to pursue.
“That would be a more in-depth analysis of our options and what it would look like,” he said. “Where would the source be? What would land acquisition cost? What would it cost to operate the plant, what would it mean for rates? We’d do a much deeper analysis of those two options.”
The town began work last spring on a bond-funded, $34 million expansion of the Terrible Creek Wastewater Plant, its largest infrastructure expense to date. The expanded capacity is expected to come on line in November 2018.
Gargan: 919-829-4807; @hgargan