10/13/05 — Water problems loom for Duplin

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Water problems loom for Duplin

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on October 13, 2005 1:50 PM

KENANSVILLE -- Duplin County residents might soon have to watch how much water they are using -- and not because of the recent vandalism to two county water tanks, either.

Duplin lies on the western edge of a what officials say is a troubled area where the aquifers, or underground rivers, are drying up.

The county sits atop the Peedee, Black Creek and the Upper and Lower Cape Fear aquifers.

Nat Wilson works with permitting section in the Raleigh office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. He said the aquifers are dropping at different rates throughout the area, but the declines he has seen in Black Creek and Upper Cape Fear range from 1 foot to 5 feet per year.

Wilson said in some cases the acquifers are dropping as much as 8 feet a year, such as those in Onslow and a portion of Jones counties. He said there are also high rates of decline under Kinston and New Bern, and the pressure is really dropping rapidly in areas with higher populations.

Duplin water supervisor Stanley Miller said the water supply has been in good shape, although the eastern half of the county is going to have to reduce how much it draws from the aquifers.

That portion of Duplin County sits on the western edge of the troubled area that covers 15 counties and extends from the coast to near Albertson, Beulaville, Pin Hook and Kenansville.

The state has mandated the first 10 percent reduction by August 2008, with a possible 30 percent total reduction due by the year 2018. The eastern portion of the county has been drawing well under its permitted limit.

The county is permitted to use 3.5 million gallons a day, but the wells draw only an average of about 1.8 million gallons a day.

"When we start drawing that 3.5 million gallons a day, we'll have to cut back on usage," Miller said.

The area labeled "troubled" was determined by a study conducted by Golder and Associates of Virginia for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

But Miller said the at-risk areas, and how serious the problem really is, depends on to whom you speak.

Not all experts agree with the study's findings, he said.