The Town of Hillsborough has started construction to expand the West Fork Eno River Reservoir. The $16 million project will increase the reservoir's capacity from 1.8 million gallons of water to three million, and will shut down three roads over the course of two years.
The current expansion is Phase 2 of a long-term project started in 1997 that began with the creation of the reservoir. The Army Corps of Engineers issued the town a permit for the two phases in 1997, with a deadline in 2018. Construction began March 19, meeting the deadline.
Extra water is not currently needed, but the town wanted to meet the 2018 deadline. Hillsborough Town Manager Eric Peterson said. If the permit was allowed to run out, the costs of Phase 2 would have increased by several million dollars due to new requirements.
Hillsborough Utilities Director Nathan Cates said the expansion of the reservoir is not just about meeting a deadline, but also ensuring that the town has enough water to withstand droughts.
In 2007, the Triangle experienced a severe drought that left most towns — except for Hillsborough — under tight water restrictions. Durham had around 30 days left in their water supply and Raleigh was down to about 70 days, while Hillsborough still had close to 200 days, Cates said.