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Dredging project will expand reservoir capacity

North Fork Mills River Reservoir. [CITY OF HENDERSONVILLE PHOTO] North Fork Mills River Reservoir. [CITY OF HENDERSONVILLE PHOTO]

A dredging project starting next week will expand storage capacity and improve water quality in the North Fork Mills River Reservoir, the city of Hendersonville said in a news release.

The watershed and reservoir, located on completely forested, public lands in Pisgah National Forest, have provided water to Hendersonville and surrounding areas for approximately 100 years. Over time, sediment has naturally accumulated within the reservoir which has begun to infringe on the water intake structure's ability to receive water.

“We recognize the importance of protecting our natural resources and are committed to ensuring that the North Fork Reservoir continues to provide clean water for our community," said Lee Smith, Water and Sewer Utilities Director for the City of Hendersonville. “Protecting natural water resources and working with partners like the U.S. Forest Service allows our community to enjoy life-sustaining natural water sources while protecting and sustaining our forests for future generations.” Utilities Director Smith explained the project is a proactive step to preserve the water source.

To ensure this pristine water source can continue to serve the community, the reservoir's water level will be temporarily lowered and accumulated sediment removed. The sediment will be temporarily stockpiled and then transported outside of the national forest for proper disposal. The dredging project will increase water volume along with improving water quality. Construction will begin next week and continue through August.

The construction area in Pisgah National Forest will be surrounded by safety fencing. Signage will be posted in the area. Forest users are advised to avoid entering construction zones for their safety and should exercise caution on the national forest roads due to increased construction traffic. Motor vehicle access to Wash Creek Road from the North Mills River Campground to the Wash Creek Group Camp and Hendersonville Reservoir Road to the Trace Ridge Parking Area will be restricted during certain construction work activities that present safety hazards on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“The U.S. Forest Service has partnered with the City of Hendersonville for many years to achieve sustainable, multiple-use land and resource management to meet the diverse needs of the community,” Pisgah National Forest District Ranger Dave Casey said. “Dating back to 1911, the legislation that authorized the federal government to purchase lands in the east, such as Pisgah National Forest, was focused on protecting the headwaters of our rivers and streams that had been decimated at the time. After 100 years of water supply to Hendersonville, we’re proud to continue that access to this remarkable resource for our local communities.”

The city of Hendersonville has provided clean, high-quality drinking water for over one hundred years. Currently, approximately 75,000 people across Hendersonville and Henderson County rely on the water system for affordable, trusted drinking water. The city currently sources water from three locations — the North Fork Mills River Reservoir and Bradley Creek in Pisgah National Forest and the main stem of the Mills River. A similar dredging project was completed in 2019 to remove accumulated sediment from Bradley Creek. Water travels from these sources to Hendersonville's water treatment facility where treatment occurs before traveling through pipes to homes and businesses across the community.