The Eno River originates in north Orange County and flows south from its headwaters through Hillsborough, where it bears east and flows into Durham County. The Eno River Basin Voluntary Capacity Use Area encompasses the 150 square miles of the Upper Eno River watershed upstream from the mouth of the Little River. This area includes the Town of Hillsborough as well as portions of Orange and Durham Counties and the City of Durham.
Why is there concern for the Eno River?
The Eno River is greatly affected by seasonal dry periods. There has long been concern with the security of water supplies and with adequate flows for aquatic habitat in the public park land along the Eno River. In the mid-1980s, the Eno River dried up completely for extended periods of time between Ben Johnston Dam and the Wastewater Treatment Plant. The dry conditions adversely affected aquatic habitat, public recreation, natural aesthetics, water supply and water quality.
The Environmental Management Commission (EMC) directed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to conduct an investigation on the Eno River Basin. The Department found that during low flow periods the water demand exceeded the available water supply and that projected growth and increased water use in the Eno Basin would require immediate attention to avoid more severe water supply problems. The total water usage from the Eno River had increased such that a coordinated effort was necessary to protect the interests and rights of riparian owners. In order to preserve water quality and aquatic habitat in the Eno River, new water supply sources needed to be developed in addition to the implementation of cooperative conservation among all water users. As a result, the Eno River Voluntary Capacity Use Area was established.
What is the Eno River Voluntary Capacity Use Area?
The Voluntary Capacity Use Area is based on a resolution by the Environmental Management Commission (EMC Resolution 88-13) under the authority of the Water Use Act of 1967 (G.S. 143-215.12 (et. seq.)) and has benefited from local support since its commencement in 1988. The Eno River Voluntary Capacity Use Area encompasses north Orange County and the portion of central Durham County that drains into the Eno River. The area includes Lake Orange, Corporation Lake, Orange-Alamance Reservoir, Lake Ben Johnston, and the West Fork Eno Reservoir.
In the fall of 1988, the EMC accepted and endorsed a voluntary water management plan for the Eno River basin. The EMC directed the Division of Water Resources to monitor compliance with the approved plan and to regularly report their findings. If the primary users do not adhere to the plan, the EMC can establish a mandatory capacity use area designation, which would result in issuing water use permits for withdrawals of 100,000 gallons per day or more.
How Does the Management Plan Work?
The Eno River Voluntary Water Management Plan is unique to North Carolina. The voluntary management plan provides for the allocation of available water supply between the primary withdrawers. The plan includes six stages of water withdrawal restrictions that become progressively more limiting as the remaining storage level of Lake Orange Reservoir declines. The Orange County Engineer is responsible for monitoring stream flows and initiating and rescinding restrictions during low flow periods. The Orange County Engineer reviews water release data from Lake Orange Reservoir, Lake Ben Johnston Reservoir and the West Fork Eno Reservoir to monitor established flow targets for each withdrawal stage. Allocated water withdrawers are responsible for monitoring and reporting their withdrawals to the Division of Water Resources and the Orange County Engineer.
Since its inception, the plan has been amended to adapt to varying circumstances and conditions. For instance, one provision has been modified to allow withdrawals that are greater than the maximum allowable withdrawal for a primary user when river flows are high. A share/trade agreement was also enacted to allow a user to transfer the unused portion of their withdrawal allocation to another user when needed. For example, when Piedmont Minerals shuts down during holidays, the unused allocation could be transferred to either of the remaining primary withdrawers.
Hillsborough is the largest water system withdrawer within the Eno River Voluntary Capacity Use Area. Hillsborough maintains the West Fork Eno Reservoir, a 43-feet deep reservoir with a 786 million gallon capacity. Hillsborough withdraws water from Lake Ben Johnston Reservoir and has interconnections with neighboring systems that can be used during a water shortage emergency.
The rural areas of Orange and Alamance counties obtain water through the non-profit membership corporation, Orange-Alamance Water System, Inc. Orange-Alamance withdraws water from Corporation Lake Reservoir and can obtain additional water from Lake Orange Reservoir during emergency situations. The Orange-Alamance Water System owns and operates its own water treatment plant and distribution system, which was developed in the late 1960's.
Piedmont Minerals is a division of Resco Products, Inc. Located in the Piedmont Region of the state known as the "slate belt"; Piedmont Minerals has been one of the nation's leading suppliers of quality raw materials for over forty years. A portion of their operations requires withdrawal from the Eno River from time to time.
Other Impacted Parties:
|Wayne Howard||Water Resource Engineer||Division of Water Resources||919-707-9017|
|Kevin Lindley||Staff Engineer||Orange County||919-245-2583|
|Kenny Keel||Town Engineer / Utilities Director||Hillsborough||919-732-1270 ext. 75|
|Dale Hamby||Water Plant Manager||Orange-Alamance||336-212-4837|
|Randy Thomas||Plant Manager||Piedmont Minerals||919-732-3981|
|Keith Nealson||Park Superintendent||Eno River State Park||919-383-1686|
|Allen Hardy||Acting Regional Engineer||Public Water Supply Section - Raleigh Regional Office||919-791-4293|
|Jimmy Dodson||Piedmont Region Biologist||NC Division of Parks and Recreation||919-707-9330|