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Water officials prepare for worst

WILMINGTON -- We may be at the mouth of the state's longest river, but city leaders are saying we still need to be conscious of conserving water in this ongoing drought. Even with water restrictions in place this year officials estimate that the city of Wilmington consumes between 11 million and 12 million gallons of water a day. Officials say that none of the water we use comes from our own backyard. Since we're so close to the ocean salt mixes with the river and makes river water in this region undrinkable. Our water supply originates at Jordan Lake, which feeds the Cape Fear River. The lake is near Raleigh -- a region most affected by the drought. Officials say our water supply is sufficient for now, but we also need to prepare for the worst. Wilmington Superintendent of Water Treatment Mike Richardson said, "Nobody really knows what the future holds. You know, what's going to happen in 60, 90, 120 days from now if this continues on. We have to make plans and part of those plans are conserving. So that we set the pattern and we try to extend the amount we have as long as we can." Richardson says our water supply is routed to the region through pipes from Bladen County, the closest fresh water source before the dam that keeps salt water out of the river. Richardson said using water from our portion of the Cape Fear River is possible, but it would require sophisticated and expensive technology to desalinate the water. He says that would triple the average city water bill.

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