By David Anderson / The Free Press
Kinston Public Services staffers have fielded calls for two years from residents of Kinston’s western outskirts, frustrated with low water pressure.
A solution — or array of solutions — could be presented in the coming months, though, as the city conducts an intensive study to determine the best methods of improving water service to residents in the Castle Oaks, Whitfield Acres and Falling Creek communities which have grown significantly during the past 20 years.
The improved water pressure would also ensure there are no hiccups in water service as more tenants come to the nearby U.S. 70 West Industrial Park.
“It will give us a better idea of what things we can do to improve pressures,” Assistant Public Services Director Steve Miller said Tuesday of the study.
The members of the Kinston City Council voted 4-0 Monday to spend $30,000 from the city’s water fund balance for the study.
It would be conducted by the Wooten Company, a Raleigh engineering firm which is also working with the city on ways to improve sewer capacity at the industrial park.
Mayor B.J. Murphy called the water pressure issue “a good problem to have,” as an indicator of residential and industrial growth around the city.
Public Services officials are looking at several factors in that issue, including water supply, water pipe capacity and water pipe design on systems built to support much smaller communities.
“Ideally, as a system, we keep enough water in our pipes to meet the daily needs of the customers, as well as in case there was a fire,” Miller explained.
Kinston obtained all of its water from wells until 2008, when the Neuse Regional Water and Sewer Authority (NRWASA) plant went online, delivering purified water drawn from the Neuse River to Kinston and its sister water providers in Lenoir and Pitt counties.
Miller said Kinston pays for a “daily allotment” of water from NRWASA, and augments it with water from select wells and its 750,000-gallon water tower in the U.S. 70 West Industrial Park.
The city gets NRWASA water from several connection points at different areas of Kinston, and the agency and city have agreed to keep one connection point near the Falling Creek area open 24 hours a day.
Miller said flows at other connection points have been reduced to ensure the city does not exceed its allotment.
“We’re not purchasing any additional water,” he said. “We’re just rebalancing and applying more water to that one spot.”
The adjustment from NRWASA is considered a temporary solution, though, and Public Services officials suggested opening two more wells earlier this year — No. 18 off Kelly Road in the Castle Oaks area, and No. 14 in the industrial park — at a cost of $100,000 for upgrades.
The City Council nixed the proposal, but it is still one solution to the water pressure issue, Miller said.
Joey Pittman, water production superintendent, said Well No. 14 — which sits in the shadow of the massive 750,000-gallon industrial park water tower — needs significant upgrades to be able to provide water treated with chloramines, which NRWASA uses to treat the river water.
He noted Castle Oaks and the surrounding communities are fed by a water system that dead-ends at Kelly Road. He said it would help if they were on a “loop” system.
“It’s not able to come from anywhere else,” he said of the water.
Miller said it would take several months to complete the study, which would include a computer model of Kinston’s entire water system to show supply and demand, what improvements can be made in the present, and what changes can be made to support future growth.
David Andersoncan be reached at 252-559-1077 orDavid.Anderson@Kinston.com. Follow him on Twitter at DavidFreePress.