Haw River Water Supply Plan

Client: City of Greensboro
Location: Greensboro, NC

In the summer of 2002, the City of Greensboro (pop. 200,000+), suffered a severe water shortage, resulting from back-to-back drought years throughout Piedmont, NC. The City tapped Hazen and Sawyer to help analyze the risk – finding that the City could run out of water completely by the following summer – and to develop a strategy to supplement the City’s water supply.

Project Outcomes and Benefits

  • Study of historical data and supply-and-demand curves with City staff quickly yielded actionable data.
  • Strategy to avert risk of water shortage quickly developed and facilities designed.
  • All local, state, and federal permits for construction obtained in just 10 weeks.

Hazen and Sawyer performed a detailed hydraulic and hydrologic analysis that considered storage levels in the City's reservoirs, stream flow in the Haw River, and required minimum releases downstream of the intake.

An existing low head dam, which had fallen into disrepair, offered a means to augment the supply to the City’s reservoir.

The project also required laying 71,100 lf of 30-inch ductile iron pipe - 3,950 pieces of pipe delivered in 280 loads from Birmingham, Alabama.

The most difficult portion of the pipe line installation to construct was the crossing of the Haw River at the beginning of the project. The dry weather and low river flow was welcomed in this case.

The old pumping station at the time the City of Greensboro purchased it from a neighboring municipality.

The completed pump station with elevated electrical equipment to avoid flooding from the river.

Variable speed electrical equipment, top floor of the pump station.

Facing back-to-back droughts, Greensboro’s Water Resources Director, Allan Williams, studied historical records and, together with the Hazen and Sawyer Water Resources Management Group, developed supply-and-demand curves for Greensboro’s future water supply. Their findings indicated that the City could run out of water completely by the following summer. A strategy was quickly developed to supplement the City’s water supply with water from the Haw River, located approximately 13 miles east of the City’s main reservoir, Lake Townsend.

Following meetings with the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR), Greensboro called on Hazen and Sawyer to help implement the new supplemental Haw River water supply plan. Hazen and Sawyer was authorized to develop a strategy and schedule that would allow the City to pump water from the Haw River, and to design the necessary facilities. Temporary pumping was to be utilized initially, due to the long delivery time required for the permanent pumping equipment.

The project required a fast-track approach to design, permitting, and installation of more than 13 miles of 30-inch raw water transmission pipeline extending from the Haw River to Lake Townsend. To accomplish this, we worked closely with City staff and regulatory agencies to expedite the permit approval process and clear the way for commencement of construction. As a result of these efforts, all local, state, and federal permits (Army Corps of Engineers, NCDENR, CSX Railroad, NCDOT, various cable and natural gas companies) were obtained in just 10 weeks.

Work included reactivating an abandoned intake and pumping facility on the Haw River in order to transfer raw water on an emergency basis to the City’s existing Reservoirs on Reedy Fork. The project involved a detailed surge analysis and the installation of 13.5 miles of 30-inch transmission main and rehabilitation of the existing intake and pumping facility, which included furnishing two 500 HP, 12 mgd variable speed pumps. This is the largest installation of in-series submersible pumps in the United States.

For more information on this project, or to discuss a similar project in your area, contact

Robert DiFiore, P.E. at rdifiore@hazenandsawyer.com