Current Water System Status & Projects
Based on recent analysis, real water loss (leakage) is about 60% of total water withdrawn from Buckeye Lake. Leaks in the water system are being addressed by gradually replacing all galvanized steel pipe and faulty service lines, but this will take many years since there are over 60 miles of these lines. Furthermore, the mountainous terrain causes high pressures which increase leakage rates. AWWA, American Water Works Association, estimates unavoidable real losses for systems like Beech Mountain’s to be 0.120 MGD or 30-35% of daily use, due to the high pressure system design needed in the mountainous terrain.
Beech Mountain residents are careful with their water use and their use shows a commitment to conservation. Over the past three years, Beech Mountain residents have used an average of about 2,000 gallons of water per month per household. This amount is far below the North Carolina state average of 4,000 gallons per month for indoor use and the EPA estimate of 9,000 gallons per month for the United States as a whole.
The Town of Beech Mountain is working hard to improve our water system and reduce system loss. Many factors including age, materials, pressure, soil acidity, and construction methods must be overcome to reduce the water loss. One of our main water system infrastructure issues is the widespread use of a mechanical joint which connects lengths of water pipe together every 20 feet. These joints installed 50 years ago feature a two bolt design which has been proven to exhibit extreme cases of deterioration and decay in the soil. As they rust away, they allow small amounts of water to leak by at every joint which increases over time until the eventual failure of the bolt resulting in pipe failure.
Over the past ten years, the Town Council has taken aggressive steps to upgrade the water infrastructure system. A new $4,800,000 state of the art water treatment facility was completed in 2017, which uses innovative technologies to increase the efficiency of water treatment and the quality of water. In 2021 the Town replaced 17,300 feet of water main lines. At present, construction is underway to replace 22,700 feet of water main lines. Another project underway is the replacement of approximately 350 service connections. In 2020 the Town replaced approximately 2.5 miles of old main lines during the Spruce Hollow Transmission Main Project. The Town has also drilled several wells, one of which was successful and will add about 100,000 gallons per day to the system, at a cost of over $400,000.
Although the town is committed to continually upgrading its water system infrastructure, it is important to note that the NC Division of Water Resources stated in their September 2015 report that the current water system supply is inadequate, and that fixing water loss, while important, will not be enough to ensure an adequate water supply for the town.