The federation along with the Wilmington Regional Association of Realtors and the UNCW Masters of Public Administration Program teamed up to host the first regional Water Summit, “Insights & Actions for SE North Carolina” in Wilmington Wednesday, Oct. 28 which was attended by more than 155 people. The three partners formed the “Three Star Alliance” to address issues of concern in a public educational forum.
State Representative Rick Catlin gave a recorded welcome and other speakers included Chairman Jonathan Barfield and Vice-Chair Beth Dawson of the New Hanover County Commission both recognized we must begin to address the challenges of growth and a sustainable water supply now rather than in the future or the consequences will result in water shortages and increased costs.
Based on a prediction of an expanding population that could exceed over 500,000 to over 700,000 people by 2040 the federation led the effort to provide experts from across the nation to address potential water supply and sustainability issues. Dr. Richard Spruill, a groundwater expert from East Carolina University, provided a comprehensive review of our surface and groundwater supplies and offered specific ideas for addressing the issues by innovative storage and aquifer protection strategies and highlighted that sea level rise and salt water intrusion into our groundwater aquifers will only increase.
Experts from the U.S. Geological Survey presented the National Water Census Coastal Availability Study, which is a three year study of the coastal groundwater resources of the southeast North Carolina coastal plain funded by the federal government. This study will result in the development of a comprehensive ground and surface water model that will address human impacts on our water resources as well as ecological functions and how the availability of water will affect those functions humans depend on as well. This tool will be critical in proper planning for future water needs and protection efforts.
The comprehensive one-day summit addressed the challenges and solutions for maintaining our water supplies over the next few decades and what prudent management is necessary to prepare an adequate supply of clean water for our communities. Water planners and government officials alike applauded the federation for leading this important community discussion.