What is causing this water shortage?
County Answer: The water conservation alert is due to drier, potentially drought like conditions these past few weeks, coupled with increasing use of the County’s water system capacity—likely due to increasing irrigation and other water needs. Brunswick County last had a Stage 1 Water Conservation Alert in Summer 2019. Summer 2020 was much wetter than usual, which led to less lawn irrigation and helped to avoid conservation alerts and the COVID-19 mandates led to lower peak demands.
How long is the stage 1 conservation effort expected to last?
County Answer: Conservation efforts and any additional actions will be determined on the projected weather forecasts this summer and overall water usage throughout the system. We are anticipating a much drier summer than we had in 2020 coupled with a return to more activities as the COVID-19 pandemic lessens that are likely to increase peak demands. Brunswick County had already issued a reminder for customers to use water wisely, especially during the Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day weekends. Taking steps listed in the alert like avoiding overwatering lawns, using the recommended irrigation schedule, and deferring non-essential water to nightfall and avoiding that 5-11 a.m. block will be especially helpful to reducing demand.
Are residents in danger of running out of water?
County Answer: Excessive demands typically manifest themselves in the form of low pressure, not the complete absence of water. There is sufficient capacity for all necessary potable water needs. Irrigation is what drives the water system production to levels near the system capacity and that can be controlled. Alerts are issued based on what percentage of the water system’s water production capacity is being used. Implementing a Stage 1 Conservation Alert now allows for sufficient time, prior to the Memorial Day holiday and higher temperatures, to reduce demands to manageable levels. Whether or not demand levels reach thresholds to trigger a Stage 2 or Stage 3 Conservation Alert depends on customers’ conservation efforts, weather, and the available raw water supply coming from the LCFWSA’s Kings Bluff Water Pump Station to the Northwest Water Treatment Plant.
What triggers the need for water conservation? What would trigger a stage 2 alert and what would be the effects then?
County Answer: Weather forecasts, historical peaks, system reliability, river levels, and the capacity of the raw water system are all considered in context with the system demand when determining if the next stage of a conservation alert should be triggered. However, in general, a Stage 2 alert may be declared when there are consecutive days over 90% of capacity. Measures to achieve the overall reduction in usage will include implementation of irrigation restrictions, ban on non-commercial car washing, restaurant restrictions, and public education on the water shortage.
Has the increased growth in Brunswick County created water shortage issues?
County Answer: We often hear a lot about the amount of growth and development coming to Brunswick County; one key point to remember is that the bulk of the development that is currently in the planning and design stages will not be put online until after the water treatment plant is expanded. The primary factor influencing the high summer peak demands is the water usage due to irrigation which can be managed to an extent with public education. Taking steps listed in the alert such as avoiding overwatering lawns, using the recommended irrigation schedule, and deferring non-essential water to nightfall and avoiding that 5-11 a.m. block will be especially helpful to reducing demand.
Can you tell me a bit about where the county gets its water? Is LCFWSA the main source? Are there others?
County Answer: The raw water that comes to the Northwest Water Treatment Plant is sourced through the LCFWSA; all Brunswick County water customers receive either all or part of their water from this water treatment plant. The Cape Fear River is the only source of water available to meet all the current and future demand within Brunswick County Public Utilities’ service area. The County also has the 211 Water Treatment Plant, which pulls water from groundwater wells, however the service area for this plant is smaller and customers in this area receive a blend of water from both plants.
Do you know if drought affects the amount of water LCFWSA can draw from the CF River?
County Answer: Drought conditions can play a factor in the amount of water drawn to the Cape Fear River. However, the current advisories are not due to the flow levels in the river, but rather, due to ability of the existing infrastructure to convey and treat the water at these peak demand levels. The Northwest Water Treatment Plant Capacity Expansion Project and the Lower Cape Fear Water and Sewer Authority Parallel Raw Water Main project are scheduled to be sufficiently complete prior to next summer to alleviate these capacity concerns.
Are there any updates on the additional pipeline LCFWSA is adding? When it is scheduled to go online, etc.?
County Answer: This is from the LCFWSA website: Construction of the new main began in November 2019, and it is scheduled for completion in August of 2022. Upon completion, the Kings Bluff facilities will have an expanded transmission capacity of approximately 96 million gallons per day to meet future customer demands. More details are at https://lcfwasa.org/kings-bluff