Neuse Regional Sewer & Water Authority (NRWASA)

As American Citizens in a modern country we often take water supply as a plentiful, inexpensive, never-ending natural resource. This misconception can be expanded further to assume jobs and economic development are not directly correlated to one's water supply. Before an industry will consider investing and locating in a municipality or region, there must be a guarantee of water availability and its sustainability to meet their needs in the future. It's the forward thinking of Lenoir County elected officials that began a Task Force to evaluate and ensure their water capabilities would serve its citizens and industries adequately for the long-term.

The initial task force included elected officials and public works officials from each of the 5 entities who supply water within the county (Kinston, Pink Hill, La Grange, Deep Run Water Corporation, and North Lenoir Water Corporation). Lenoir County's Economic Director, county representatives, engineers, Neuse River Foundation, and Global TransPark were invited to attend. Since the plentiful aquifers of the past were being overused and alternative choices had to be considered, the Task Force evaluated current conditions and assets, attended educational planning sessions to fully understand the scope of the problem, and decided upon alternatives. The Neuse River presented the soundest decision economically and environmentally.

State Monitoring of Ground Water

The state has been monitoring ground water removal rates since the 1960s, and the Central Coastal Plains Capacity Use Area rules set requirements and standards to reduce the amount of pumping from the ground by 75% by 2018. This rule was enacted at the end of 2002. Because Kinston and Lenoir County understood the critical need to supply water for our jobs and future industrial investment, they were working together and crossing jurisdictional boundaries before the rule even went into effect. Kinston and other regional water providers realized it would be more efficient to collaborate than attempt to fix the problem individually within one's jurisdictional limits.

An alternative supply to support the current needs of the city, and encourage and support potential growth and jobs for the region, was completed by forming The Neuse Regional Water and Sewer Authority (NRWASA) in 2001. Final memberships, organization, inter-local agreements, and contracts were finalized for WASA in 2006. WASA's mission is "Preserving our region's quality of life through sound resource management." WASA includes 8t different water systems from Lenoir and Pitt counties:
  • Ayden
  • Bell Arthur Water Corporation
  • Deep Run Water Corporation
  • Eastern Pines Water Corporation
  • Grifton
  • Kinston
  • North Lenoir Water Corporation
  • Pink Hill
These 8 water providers met the Central Coastal Plain Capacity Use Rule in 5 years instead of 15 years!


The 144 million dollar water plant, constructed along the Neuse River, is financed by a combination of:
  • $24,750,000 - USDA Grants
  • $7,1000,000 -North Carolina Water Resources Grant
  • $880,000 -North Carolina Rural Center Grants
  • $372,543 -North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Grants
  • $2,117,600 - EPA Grants
  • $11,581,108 - Member Contributions and Private Investments
  • $70,750,000 - USDA Loans
  • $26,742,000 - SRF Low Interest Loan

This water project is the largest funded water project to date in the history of the USDA in the United States. Funds totaling $48 million were committed from Federal, State, local and private sources. All funding partners were proud to be a part of this national-precedent setting project which will provide clean water to sustain life, create jobs, and promote economic development in eastern North Carolina.


The creation of WASA, created 21 jobs available to Kinston and the region. Bids for construction were received and contracted in 2005. Construction began in the second quarter of 2005 and was completed during the third quarter of 2008. In total, about 75 miles of water transmission lines ranging from 12 inches to 42 inches in diameter, three elevated tanks, and four booster pumps were constructed. Based on cross-jurisdictional cooperation, arrangements were made to allow for equal cost no matter the distance from the water plant. Even though Kinston provides 60% of the usage customers and revenue, Kinston voluntarily gave up majority votes on the WASA authority to ensure no one entity could control the decisions for the whole.

Since the authority was established, financing secured, and construction began, exciting jobs and economic development has already brought positive results to Kinston.

Smithfield Packing Company brought 200 jobs and invested $80 million in our community in 2004. All industries inquires require a Plan for water and not a Promise.

Kinston Location

Sanderson Farm's decision to locate in Kinston was based on available water supply. Sanderson will require 1.5 million gallons of water per day! Sanderson has purchased the land required for their three facilities. Sanderson Farms represents 1650 jobs and $126 million in investment to Kinston. An additional 130 contract growers will be utilized and maintained across 5 counties, representing an additional $98 million in investment.

The announcement in May of 2008 that Spirit Aerosystems would locate in Kinston at the Global Transpark was the greatest economic announcement in years. Spirit requires 100,000 gallons per day of available water supply. Because we could now meet their needs for today and into the future, they will invest over 570 million dollars in Kinston! They will provide 1000 jobs over the next five to seven years. Salaries for these jobs are well above the current median-salary of residents. Ground breaking for construction took place in September 2008.

Other Economic Development(s)

  • 2006- Spatial Integrated Systems: $2,750,000 investment and 37 new jobs
  • Ferguson Enterprises: $400,000 investment and 30 new jobs
  • 2007- A.G. Machining of North Carolina, Inc.: $1,650,000 and 29 new jobs.
  • 2007-Commerce Overseas Corporation: $4.3 million investment and 73 new jobs


  • 2007 - West Pharmaceuticals: $18.5 million investment and 154 new jobs
  • 2005 - Extrolux: $18 million investment and 97 new jobs
  • 2005 - Dupont: $55 million investment and 66 new jobs

Available Water Supply Increase

The new water plant increased the available water supply to Kinston by 3 million gallons per day and regionally by 15 million gallons per day. It's designed for easy expansion and has permitted capacity to withdraw 30 million gallons per day from the Neuse River. Through the use of its existing well field and its membership in WASA, Kinston will provide enough water for the next 50-75 years. WASA service extends to approximately 100,000 citizens and commercial users in the area.

In addition to creating jobs and providing economic development, the collaboration has resulted in more trust of the other municipalities and entities. Before the region worked together, a common mistrust existed. When you don't work together, see each other, and discuss business, more assumptions and unknowns are looked at as negative vs. positive. Now that these groups are working together, a common trust has been built and open communication occurs. This is extremely beneficial when it comes to regional planning issues that arise such as traffic and DOT requirements, power agency, and sewer issues.

Sustaining the Project

This collaborative project will be sustained by WASA board and Kinston Utility Advisory Board. Seven community citizens comprise the Kinston Utility Advisory Board while 4 members of the WASA board are business owners and citizens of the community. Kinston is definitely "On the Way" and serves as a nation-wide example of working together across jurisdictional boundaries to best serve its citizens.