Water is a problem in North Carolina. Too much of it in the east, too little in the west - From Hurricane Matthew’s devastating floods to the increasingly threatening forest fires in the Appalachian Mountains, the environmental disasters we face today are a sobering reminder of just how delicate our ecosystem truly is.
As infrastructure engineers who spend day-after-day, year-after-year focusing on these challenges, our hearts ache with our neighbors and friends when infrastructure (often times that we helped build) is substantially damaged and cannot provide necessary support for the community.
As a result of Hurricane Matthew’s flooding, 47 North Carolina counties have been approved for public assistance by Federal Emergency declarations. In response to forest fires fueled by drought in western North Carolina, 25 more counties were recently declared a State of Emergency. Seven water systems are currently under mandatory water conservation with an additional 32 water systems under voluntary efforts, according to the North Carolina Drought Management Council.
All told, 72 of North Carolina’s 100 counties are currently categorized as states of emergency from having too much or too little water over the past 30 days.
While there is no singular simple answer, there are several actions communities have and are taking to prepare for extreme conditions.
Water systems interconnected with each other provide quicker response and greater reserve capability. Loss of water from leaks in distribution systems between treatment plants and customers can be identified and corrected. A culture of water conservation encouraged and incentivized for residential and business customers can provide dramatic savings. The hardening and protection of individual system components from storm damage can improve reliability and minimize repair costs. And often times multiple raw water supply sources for a system are feasible, such as the Martin County Regional Water and Sewer Authority’s combination of surface water intake and groundwater wells designed to protect the aquifers in North Carolina’s Central Coastal Plan Capacity Use Area.
Public or Private, Residential, Industrial or Commercial, our challenge is clear. During extreme and normal conditions alike, we cannot underestimate the volatility of our environment. Preparedness is a daily activity and The Wooten Company has been helping communities prepare to meet these challenges for the past 80 years. We are here to walk you through the steps to recovery and preparation for the next event, no matter how big or small the challenge.