PCS Phosphate water is ready for distribution
Raleigh company having problems finding customers
By DAN PARSONS
The 68 million gallons of underground water PCS Phosphate pumps out of the Castle Hayne Aquifer every day could spell relief for some drought-stricken communities across North Carolina.
In the face of statewide drought, Eagle Water Company, which was granted access to PCS Phosphate’s water in 2001, continues having trouble finding buyers for the water PCS pumps into the Pamlico River. Six years ago, the company contracted with PCS Phosphate to sell that water elsewhere. So far, the company has not found a buyer for the water — enough to supply Raleigh for a day.
PCS Phosphate is permitted by the state to pump up to 78 million gallons per day from the Castle Hayne Aquifer to depressurize the water source beneath its phosphate mine. It withdraws an average 68 million gallons per day.
That same permit also allows the water withdrawn from the aquifer to be used as a public water source. Problems moving the water from the PCS Phosphate site near Aurora to communities that need it has posed problems in making ends meet for Eagle Water.
In 2001, PCS Phosphate agreed to provide the company with pumping services and access to the water.
Eric Lappala, president of Eagle Water, said his company is still trying to “line up customers” for the water. The company needs a localized demand of at least 20 million gallons per day to make moving the water economical, he said.
A permit from the N.C. Division of Water Resources allows Eagle Water access to 58 million gallons per day of what PCS Phosphate removes from the aquifer daily. That permit is separate from PCS Phosphate’s permit, which would allow Eagle Water to pump its allotment whether or not PCS Phosphate pumps that amount from the aquifer.
Eagle Water was hoping to provide Kinston with water from the PCS Phosphate plant before that city decided to construct a surface-water treatment plant to provide its water, Lappala said.
That pipeline would connect with existing water-supply systems at the point of delivery, according to the business model Lappala said his company is working under.
When asked if Eagle Water has a tentative timeline for when the company plans to begin distributing the water it has been granted access to, Lappala said, “Oh, about five years ago.”