2015 Water Supply Summit: Insights & Actions for Southeast North Carolina
2015 Water Supply Summit: Insights & Actions for Southeast North Carolina

Freshwater is essential to our lives and economy. We depend upon it for drinking and bathing, as well as to run our industries and agriculture. According to New Hanover County’s planning department, the County’s population is expected to add approximately 100,000 people in the next 25 years. Growth without reliable water supplies will be difficult. The increased demand for freshwater in New Hanover, Pender, Brunswick and surrounding counties brings to the forefront the need to manage the use of this precious resource wisely.

On October 28, 2015, Wilmington Regional Association of REALTORS®, UNCW Masters of Public Administration Program, and the North Carolina Coastal Federation held a comprehensive one-day summit that addressed the challenges and solutions for maintaining our water supplies over the next few decades. It identified what prudent management is necessary to prepare an adequate supply of clean water for our communities.

What are the studies and modeling showing us?

  • A recent United States Geological Survey (USGS) study of New Hanover County revealed concerns about increasing salt water intrusion and lower water levels in our important groundwater aquifers.
  • The USGS has identified southeastern coastal North Carolina as an area of concern for sustainable water resources and without proper long range planning it will face critical water shortages.
  • Our surface waters are connected to our groundwater aquifers therefore good stewardship of our surface waters directly depends on proper water supply management.
  • Low flow readings in the Cape Fear River has identified critical and emerging issues that need to be addressed to ensure a sustainable and adequate water supply capacity for our region.
  • New Hanover County’s new comprehensive planning process provides a way to plan for water needs to ensure economic growth while protecting water resources.


Who was in attendance?

  • Elected officials
  • Local, state and federal government agencies
  • Businesses and industries
  • City and county officials
  • Chamber of Commerce members
  • Scientists
  • University educators and students
  • Real estate professionals


Opening Remarks- Our Water Resources & the Future

N. C. State Representative Rick Catlin

Background and History on Water Resources in New Hanover County

Introduction: Tracy Skrabal, Senior Coastal Scientist, North Carolina Coastal Federation

Dr. Richard Spruill, Associate Professor, Department of Geology, East Carolina University, President Groundwater Management Associates

How Can We Protect Our Groundwater Aquifers: Legislative and Regulatory Controls

MODERATOR: Rick Shiver, Retired, Water Quality Protection Division, N.C. Department of Environmental Quality
Nat Wilson, Ground Water Management Branch Chief, N.C. Division of Water Resources, N.C. Department of Environmental Quality

Growth and Water Demands

MODERATOR: Shane Johnson, Chief Operation Officer Wilmington Regional Association of Realtors

New Hanover County Comprehensive Plan: Implications of Growth and Water Supply

Dylan McDonnell, Long Range Planner, New Hanover County Planning Department

Issues Affecting Water Supply and Sustainability

MODERATOR: Frank Styers, Chief Operations Officer, Cape Fear Public Utility Authority

Options for Water Supply Sustainability and Resilience

Gary McSmith, Engineering, Manager Planning and Design, Cape Fear Public Utility Authority

Aquifer Storage Recovery Alternatives

Mike Richardson, Water Resource Manager, Cape Fear Public Utility Authority

Facing the Challenges Ahead: United States Geological Survey

MODERATOR: Dr. Alex Manda, Associate Professor of Water Resources, East Carolina University

Hydrogeology and water-quality conditions in the surficial, Castle Hayne, and Peedee Aquifers: 2012-2013

Kristen McSwain, Kristen McSwain, hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey South Atlantic Water Science Center in Raleigh, North Carolina

USGS National Water Census Coastal Carolinas Water Availability Study

Chad Wagner, Associate Director for Investigations with the U.S. Geological Survey, South Atlantic Water Science Center


Strategic Plan and the Future: What Now?

MODERATOR: Mike Giles, Coastal Advocate, N. C. Coastal Federation

Jim Flechtner, executive director, Cape Fear Public Utility Authority
Chairman Jonathan Barfield, NHC Commission
Vice Chair Beth Dawson, New Hanover County Commission
Dr. Richard Spruill, Associate Professor, East Carolina University
Dr. Mark Imperial, Associate Professor, Director Master of Public Administration, UNCW

For More Information

Mike Giles, North Carolina Coastal Federation

Sponsored By

The Three Star Alliance:

Three Star Alliance, a partnership of three organizations in the southeastern North Carolina, focused on addressing important issues and topics facing our community