Background: Capacity Use Area No. 1 was established under the Water Use Act of 1967.
CUA #1 was designated to control impacts of aquifer depressurization caused by phosphate mining in
Beaufort County. Large-scale pumping at the mine affected the water supply on a regional basis,
causing measurable drawdown in aquifers up to 50 miles from the site.
Within a few years after mining began, Castle Hayne aquifer water levels equilibrated to the stress
imposed by mining even though withdrawals averaged over 60 million gallons per day. The Castle Hayne aquifer can provide that much water
because of its very high permeability and recharge rate. Even though the mine's influence on ground water conditions was well established, the
CUA #1 designation and permitting process allowed for protection of other water users and protection against overuse of ground water in local
areas within the designated capacity use area.
Unlike the Castle Hayne aquifer, the Black Creek and Upper Cape Fear aquifers that lie to the west of the
Castle Hayne aquifer are much less permeable and recharged at very low rates. These aquifers now need the protection that is established
through a capacity use area. Ground water users are overpumping these aquifers and are in danger of running out of water if alternative
water sources are not found and brought on-line.
Central Coastal Plain: Since early 1998 Division
staff have worked toward establishing the Central Coastal Plain
Capacity Use Area. Now, rules have been approved by the Environmental Management Commission that designate the area and create a ground
water use permitting process. Those rules became effective August 1, 2002, cover 15 complete counties, and eliminate the need for CUA #1.
Water use permitting no longer exists in Hyde and Tyrrell counties after August 1, 2002. Surface water use permits are not required in the CCPCUA.