The Long-Range Water Supply Plan

OWASA Seeks Community Feedback on Plan for Increasing Long-Range Water Supply Resiliency

Aerial Picture of Cane Creek During Drought

OWASA is committed to supplying reliable and high-quality water to our growing community and economy for years to come. The planning, permitting, and partnerships required in water supply development can take decades to develop and secure. That is why OWASA is planning for the water needs of our community two generations ahead.

In coordination with local planners, OWASA recently updated our 50-year forecast for water demands in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community, as well as our projected water supply with current resources in a changing climate.

Our current water supply is at greatest risk from an extended drought. The watershed that fills the Cane Creek Reservoir is relatively small and slow to refill after a drought. University Lake has a relatively large watershed for its size, but offers significantly less water storage than Cane Creek Reservoir due to its shallow depth.

In updating our Long-Range Water Supply Plan, we used our 50-year forecasts to evaluate the need, costs, and benefits of various alternatives to increase the resiliency of our water supply. Based on this evaluation, OWASA determined that Jordan Lake offers the most resilient, cost-effective, and viable opportunity to meet future water demands. From here, further evaluation is needed to identify how best to incorporate water from Jordan Lake into our supply portfolio.

OWASA stands now at a decision-point to invest in the further analysis of options to improve access to water from Jordan Lake, and we want to hear your feedback. From October 2020 through the Spring of 2021, OWASA is actively seeking community questions and feedback on our plan to meet the water needs of our community today, in 2070, and every day in between.  To share your feedback,  please email OWASA’s Planning and Development Manager, Ruth Rouse.


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Timeline of Key Events and Decisions Regarding OWASA’s Update to the Long-Range Water Supply Plan (2014 – 2020)

  • January 25, 2013 – Long-Range Water Supply Plan Updated
  • March 13, 2014 – OWASA Board of Directors (Board) adopts its Strategic Plan in which Strategic Initiative 1 was to “provide reliable and high-quality supply of water for the next 50 years”.  One of the key actions identified was to Update Long-Range Water Supply Plan. (Link to updated Strategic Plan)
  • March 27, 2014 – Board approved a charter for the Long-Range Water Supply Plan.  This document included a project vision, goals and objectives, a table of tasks, and goals for community engagement.
  • February 12, 2015 – The Board approved a Community Engagement Plan (CEP) for the LRWSP. (Updated on November 22, 2016)
  • September 22, 2016 – An overview of the work completed to date was provided to the Board.  We also obtained Board approval to send local governing Boards information regarding the LRWSP.
  • November 10, 2016 – The Board approved goals and objectives for the LRWSP based on the goals and objectives included in the charter.  The Board requested that staff revise the Community Engagement Plan to reflect topics that customers were most interested in: (1) how much water we had, (2) how much water we will need, and (3) what are the potential ways we could meet that need.
  • November 17, 2016 – Background information on the LRWSP was provided in the Assembly of Governments meeting agenda package as an Information Item in accordance with discussion from the September 22, 2016 Board meeting.
  • September 28, 2017 – An update on the LRWSP was presented to the Board.
  • November 15, 2018 – Staff presented draft water projections to the Board that were developed based on growth projections provided by the local governments.  The Board approved the overall method and requested that staff work with our engineering consultant to perform an uncertainty analysis around the demand projections.
  • March 14, 2019– Staff presented final water demand projections, which were approved by the Board.
  • September 12, 2019 – The Board approved the staff recommended supply and demand management strategies that would be evaluated in the LRWSP; staff described the process used to identify that strategies that included public input.
  • November 14, 2019 – Staff presented an update on the schedule and process to update the LRWSP.
  • December 12, 2019 – Staff presented a preliminary evaluation of our water supply risk based on our engineering consultant’s modeling analysis.
  • January 30,2020 – Staff presented a more detailed overview of the supply and demand management alternatives being evaluating in the LRWSP at this special meeting of the Board.
  • August 13, 2020 – Staff presented a technical evaluation of the supply and demand management alternatives.