What do you do when your water source begins drying up, and 15,000 households are relying on you for water?
This is precisely what happened in Craven County, North Carolina. For decades, the county received its water from the Black Creek Aquifer. But when water levels began declining sharply in Cretaceous aquifers, North Carolina responded with the Central Coastal Plain Capacity Use Area (CCPCUA). This regulation set limits on the amount of water that could be withdrawn from certain aquifers, including Black Creek. Communities were required to cut their withdrawals by 75% by 2018. Craven County was among those communities.
McKim & Creed explored the county’s options to meet the new requirements. These ranged from doing nothing (not an option), to buying water (too expensive), to accessing surface water supplies (expensive, low-quality water) to a new groundwater supply (BINGO!). The robust Castle Hayne aquifer contained plenty of water and was not a part of the CCPCUA. However, it required additional treatment that couldn’t be provided through the county’s existing facilities, so McKim & Creed worked with the county to establish the Potable Water Supply and Treatment Facility. Opened in Fall 2017, the $31-million low-pressure reverse osmosis facility produces up to 3 million gallons of fresh drinking water every day. Expandable to 5 mgd, the plant can accommodate 20-25 years of growth and adapt to handle regulatory or water quality changes. The plant became operational in time to meet the CCPCUA requirements, and enables the county to provide high-quality, great-tasting water at one of the lowest rates in Eastern North Carolina.