Urban Water Availability and Potential Future Stressors : A Case Study of Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina
Wickham, Elliot Donoghue
The line that once existed between geographic regions that are considered "water poor" and "water rich" is now being blurred. Water managers in "water rich" regions, such as the Southeastern United States, are starting to realize that their abundant water supplies are not limitless. This holds true for North Carolina due to its current and future situation with regard to projected population growth, potential industrial demand changes, and impacts of climate change. Cities near Research Triangle Park (RTP), specifically Raleigh and Durham, have seen and will continue to see rapid population growth well into the mid-21st century. Available water supplies are predicted to be unsupportive of a growing Raleigh as early as 2040 and of Durham as early as 2050. This thesis addresses how these factors could impact water availability in the future. Different population projections are used to model the impact of residential water demands on water availability. Industrial demand change is modeled by the addition of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to North Carolina, which was legalized in 2012. The water demand data for fracking from the Marcellus shale is used to develop projections for the increased industrial water demands from fracking. Historical stream flow and hydrograph data show past water availability which is used to model how stream flow could be altered in the future due to variation in precipitation patterns because of climate change. Ultimately population growth has the biggest impact on water supply. Climate change has the potential to increase or decrease supply; however, an increase in supply is not enough to combat the high water demands of a growing population. Hydraulic fracturing also adds stress to the system, but the severity of the stress depends on the number wells and the specific amount of water needed to "frack" each well. In combination, these three factors have a substantial impact on water availability in Raleigh-Durham. Overall, regardless of the scenarios in this research with regard to population growth, climate change, and increased industrial demands, Raleigh and Durham will face a shortage of water availability in the future.
Wickham, Elliot Donoghue. (January 2014). Urban Water Availability and Potential Future Stressors : A Case Study of Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina (Master's Thesis, East Carolina University). Retrieved from the Scholarship. (http://hdl.handle.net/10342/4571.)
Wickham, Elliot Donoghue. Urban Water Availability and Potential Future Stressors : A Case Study of Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. Master's Thesis. East Carolina University, January 2014. The Scholarship. http://hdl.handle.net/10342/4571. February 26, 2024.
Wickham, Elliot Donoghue, “Urban Water Availability and Potential Future Stressors : A Case Study of Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina” (Master's Thesis., East Carolina University, January 2014).
Wickham, Elliot Donoghue. Urban Water Availability and Potential Future Stressors : A Case Study of Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina [Master's Thesis]. Greenville, NC: East Carolina University; January 2014.
East Carolina University