This is Alan Rimer, Chair of the OWASA Board of Directors.

I want to take this opportunity to discuss our local water supply, which I thought timely as we have all heard about the tragedy of the contaminated water supply in Charleston, West Virginia.

As many listeners know, OWASA is the Carrboro-Chapel Hill community’s publicly-owned, non-profit water, wastewater and reclaimed water utility with three local water supplies:

  • Cane Creek Reservoir
  • University Lake
  • The Quarry Reservoir west of Carrboro.

As you can imagine, protecting water in our lakes is the first line of defense in ensuring a high-quality drinking water supply. It is much better to keep pollutants out of lakes than to remove them later.

Through the cooperation of all the local governments, the density and impact of development in our watersheds are limited by some of the most progressive watershed zoning, streamside buffer requirements, and impervious surface limits in North Carolina. Most new residential development is limited to one residence per five acres and industrial development is not permitted. These standards reduce the potential of contaminants ever reaching our reservoirs.

Water treatment is also important. We filter and disinfect the water from our reservoirs to drinking water quality at our Jones Ferry Road Water Treatment Plant in Carrboro where we monitor the quality of the drinking water with some 40,000 tests annually. This ensures it is safe and pump it through a network of about 400 miles of pipe.

In an emergency, interconnections are available with Durham, Hillsborough, the northern Chatham County water systems and Cary. If necessary, OWASA can receive enough drinking water from these sources to meet the average daily needs of the community under most conditions.

Our hope is that this information will reassure the customers of OWASA that our water supply is highly protected and designed to avoid the type of tragedy Charleston experienced.

For additional information, you can visit our website at