Utility projects position county for future growth

Currituck County has begun a series of projects to improve the county’s water utility infrastructure to provide better services for citizens and meet the demands of residential and commercial growth. Over the next two to three years, the county’s plans include expanding the water treatment plants in Maple and Corolla, developing additional wells to increase raw water supply, and installing water main pipes running north and south on the mainland.

Expanding the reverse osmosis water treatment systems at the Mainland Water Plant in Maple and the Southern Outer Banks Water System (SOBWS) plant in Corolla is vital to Currituck’s ability to provide an adequate water supply in the future. The mainland is experiencing a steady influx of residential and commercial customers, especially in the Moyock area. On the Outer Banks, the SOBWS treatment plant consistently operates at or near maximum capacity during the summer vacation season.

Both water plants were originally built with future expansion in mind, so there is designated space in each facility to enlarge the reverse osmosis structure. These expansions will provide an additional 750,000 gallons of treated water per day at each site. Currently, the mainland reverse osmosis system can produce 1.5 million gallons per day. In Corolla, the SOBWS plant is able to treat 3 million gallons of water daily.

In combination with the plant expansions, Currituck will develop new wells to ensure a robust supply of raw water. A project is underway to build a fourth deep well on the mainland and exploratory tests are finding a suitable well site in Corolla. Each will draw water from an aquifer approximately 250 feet below the surface. The county also completed exploratory tests on an extra-deep well in Corolla, testing water from more than 1,000 feet deep. The high salination of the deeper water would require an upgrade to the reverse osmosis membrane components, but does offer a possible water source should the need arise in the future.

Two other important projects involve the installation of 16” water main pipes on the mainland. One main will head south, under the Coinjock Canal, to enhance service to the southern mainland areas. A second main will head north along the Highway 168 corridor to the county’s water towers that serve the fast-growing northern mainland communities. To support the water mains, the county will construct additional booster pump stations along the routes to move water more efficiently.

In addition, the county expects to construct a 500,000-gallon water storage tank in Corolla next to the SOBWS water plant within the next three years. This additional storage capacity, in combination with the plant expansion, will help the Outer Banks system maintain a consistent, abundant supply of water for customers during peak usage periods. These upgrades are critical to providing service to the county’s successful tourism industry.

County staff and the Board of Commissioners have put a great deal of time into planning the utility system’s future needs. Overall, these forward-thinking projects will enhance Currituck County’s ability to provide services for customers as the population continues to grow.