02/20/08 — Cutback in river flow no concern, officials say

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Cutback in river flow no concern, officials say

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on February 20, 2008 1:59 PM

In an effort to prolong water availability, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cut the amount of water released from Falls Lake by 9 percent Tuesday.

The Corps discharged 50 cubic feet per second instead of the 55 cubic feet per second previously released.

What does that mean for Goldsboro residents downstream?

Less water.

But the decision might not affect Goldsboro too much, Public Utilities Director Karen Brashear said.

The cut will decrease the amount of water going into the Neuse River, the city's main water source, by about 37 gallons per second.

That amount is used in about a seven-minute shower or with 23 toilet flushes.

And daily, that translates to roughly 3.2 million gallons.

But Goldsboro might receive a little more or less of the water.

"The Corps' target is Clayton," Mrs. Brashear said. "So if the cut is reached at Clayton, they might send more or less our way. It just depends on what the reading is there."

She said that, either way, it won't make that much of a difference.

With about 3 inches of rain falling into the river on Sunday night and more rain to come this week, she believes the water level will balance out.

"(The decrease of released water) is really not going to be a big issue at all," she said.

The Neuse River levels are currently more than double what they were on Feb. 13, coming in at 8.38 feet.

City residents are currently using 4.42 million gallons per day, an average over the past week, compared to 5.5 million gallons per day toward the end of last year.

"People are doing better with cutting back," Mrs. Brashear. "But it is winter, and we don't have any irrigation."

She said that at the last Corps meeting on Feb. 5, officials discussed cutting the water released by 10 cubic feet per second.

"So this is half of what they were talking about," she said.

At the same meeting, Mrs. Brashear said Corps officials said they believed there would be enough water until mid-June or even mid-July, but those estimates were based on no reductions from Falls Lake and zero rain.

So now, they are going to have to re-evaluate the situation.

"If they do these reductions and if there isn't more rainfall, they will further the extensions," she said. "But we expect more rain to come."

On April 1, the Corps is expected to hold another meeting on the situation, during which Mrs. Brashear says officials will look at cutting the water that comes downstream by 50 cubic feet per second, or about 32 million gallons a day.

If that happens, she isn't sure what will happen to Goldsboro's water supply.

"This is something that has never happened to us before," she said.