Water supply for the beaches began early 1950's with the formation of "Dare Beaches Sanitary District."
No water system developed through this avenue.
Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills both incorporated and developed the Dare Beaches Water Authority. Financing difficulty eventually led to the dissolution of this Authority with the emerging of Dare County taking the lead to develop a water supply for the beaches.
Under a new arrangement, Dare County, Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills agreed to jointly pay for new treatment improvements.
Although these Authorities were created in the early 1950's, a Public Water System was not developed until the early 1960's after the Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962 because of salt water intruding into private wells that were drilled down 15-20 feet below the ground level.
Both Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head constructed water treatment plants using the Fresh Pond (27 acre surface water supply). Although extensive studies were conducted to find a drinking water source, it soon became obvious that the Fresh Pond was the only source of "fresh water" available. Low solids and iron content of this pond led to the development of the pond as the source of water supply.
Both towns utilized the Fresh Pond with micro-strainers, primarily for algae and suspended matter removal. This treatment lasted for years until algae blooms and high iron concentrations from low pond levels led to further treatment with alum flocculation and settling basins. By 1969, it was obvious that the Fresh Pond would not be able to supply the volume of water needed at the beach.
Concerns of financing through revenue bonds led NC Local Government Commission to recommend that Dare County be responsible for the development of an adequate water supply for the northern beaches in Dare County. The county involvement led to the construction of the Skyco WTP at the intersection of US Rte. 64 and NC Rte. 345 with wells being located along the road south to Wanchese on Roanoke Island. Presently, 10 wells are drilled to a depth of 200-250 feet in the upper Yorktowne aquifer. With Chloride levels less than 70 mg/l treatment required would be only Ion Exchange Softening. Raw Total Hardness is between 150-170 mg/l.
In 1979, water demand on the beaches exceeded 1.0 MGD. The Skyco WTP came on line August 8, 1980 with a maximum treatment capacity of 5.0 MGD. At that time, the Fresh Pond was moth-balled and kept in emergency reserve. By 1980, demand increased to 2.0 MGD. Peak day in 1983 rose to 4.5 MGD.
So in 1983, the County Commissioners authorized a study of additional sources of water. This was at the time of the summer when water demand was at its highest, with some days the Skyco plant running at maximum production - 5.0 MGD.
Shortly afterwards, the County decided to use a brackish water source found in the water supply study and treat the water with Reverse Osmosis. Extensive full treatment was also developed at the Fresh Pond Plant. This included renovation to the existing facility, addition of filters, rapid mixers for flocculation, and removal of the micro strainers. The refurbished Fresh Pond Plant went back into operation by November, 1985 - maximum daily output of Fresh Pond = 1.5 MGD. Total capacity of Fresh Pond and Skyco Ion Exchange = 6.5 MGD. The 1985 peak day was 5.0 MGD, by 1989, it had increased to 6.0 MGD.
Due to proposed EPA regulations lowering the acceptable Trihalomethane limits from 100 µg/l down to 80 µg/l beginning January 2004 and a proposition to eventually drop the maximum contaminant level to 40 µg/l, the search for additional methods of treatment for the Skyco Plant began. Pilot testing performed in 1998, using different types of anion resin for organic removal, proved that this method of treatment would work for the Skyco plant needs. The expansion project consisted of installing five (5) new vessels, which contain 680 cubic feet each of organic removal resin. Each vessel was placed in the treatment scheme after the existing cation resin softening units. The expansion began in August 2001, with the project being completed in May 2003.