Currently, the Little River Reservoir Project is in the environmental review process.          

The Little River Reservoir Project
In order to meet projected water demands in central and eastern Wake County, the City of Raleigh proposes to construct a new drinking water reservoir on the Little River. The municipalities that would benefit from the proposed reservoir include Raleigh, Garner, Knightdale, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Wendell and Zebulon.  The water and sewer utilities of these municipalities were merged with the water and sewer utilities of the City of Raleigh between the years 2000 and 2006. The City of Raleigh now operates the combined utility system.

The table below provides key details for the proposed reservoir. 

Proposed Little River Reservoir

Dam Height

39 ft.

Normal Pool Elevation

260 ft. mean sea level

Lake Surface Area

1,150 acres

Water Supply Storage

3.7 billion gallons

Water Supply Safe Yield

13.7 million gallons per day

Water Treatment Capacity

20 million gallons per day

Project History
The Little River, a tributary to the Neuse River, originates in Franklin County and joins the Neuse River near Goldsboro, NC. A section of the Little River in eastern Wake County has been recognized as a future source of drinking water for several Wake County municipalities and is currently zoned for water supply purposes.  A 1989 Phase I Preliminary Engineering Report and a1993 Draft Environmental Assessment prepared for Wake County identified the Little River as a feasible source of drinking water in terms of existing land use, planned development, water quality and available yields. The primary purpose of the proposed impoundment on the Little River is to provide an additional source of drinking water for the City of Raleigh and the other municipalities in central and eastern Wake County.  Existing water sources and treatment facilities are not adequate to meet the future water demand of these municipalities.

Environmental Permitting Process
Under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, a Federal permit is required from the Department of the Army, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), for reservoir construction.  An environmental impact statement (EIS) is required as a part of the application for this permit in order to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). An EIS is currently being prepared for the Little River Reservoir project. To visit the USACE Little River Reservoir project website click here (under development).

Project Objectives and Alternatives
A number of objectives and alternative projects must be considered prior to implementing the Little River Reservoir project. The EIS will discuss all reasonable alternatives to the proposed project, and all reasonable alternatives will be rigorously explored and evaluated. The recommended water supply project and all alternatives must (read more):

Population Estimates
Population growth rates for Wake County and its municipalities are expected to remain relatively high over the next 20 to 30 years. Various studies and analyses prepared for water supply planning providing for a range of growth conditions were evaluated to develop the population projections.  A 30-year planning period ending in the year 2040 was chosen for this project.  This period of time establishes the basis for reservoir sizing. The projected population in the year 2010 for the project service area (including the City of Raleigh and the Towns of Garner, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Knightdale, Wendell, and Zebulon) is 489,000. The project service area population in the year 2040 is 896,200.

Projected Water Demands
An additional supply of drinking water will be needed to meet future demands due to service area growth and development.  This supply must meet the demand for annual average conditions and during peak summer periods.  A reliable water supply during both average weather conditions and droughts will ensure the health and safety of the citizens of Raleigh and the other municipalities in central and eastern Wake County served by the City of Raleigh system.  The Little River Reservoir is proposed to meet a portion of these water supply needs.

The projected average day water demand for the project service area for the year 2040, including water conservation and wastewater reuse, is approximately 92.4 million gallons per day (mgd), as shown in the table below. (read more)





Related Links

City of Raleigh
Wake County
US Army Corps of Engineers
NC Division of Water Quality
NC Public Water Supply
Wake County Little River Reservoir Water Supply Shed

Maps and Images

Wake County


Reservoir map





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