Charlotte’s growth challenging infrastructure needs

North Carolina

CHARLOTTE (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) — Two water main breaks in a week shut off water to thousands of customers across Charlotte.

FOX 46 asked Charlotte Water if they have a database showing the pipes that need replacing, but all they could send us was a list of current or completed projects. FOX 46 learned that the database might not exist yet.

UNC Charlotte Professor Craig Allen says they’re working with the city to develop a risk matrix for aging pipes. When asked if Charlotte Water has a database that tells them when pipes are going bad, he said, “Not yet. They are still in the weeds right now because they still have to clean up the database.”

The population isn’t waiting, though. More people are tapping into water lines and the electric grid, which, if left untouched, could put a strain on the infrastructure in place.

“Duke developed this list a couple of years ago, seven megatrends affecting the system in the Carolinas,” said Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Robert Cox, “One of them is concentrated urban development.”

Cox says his department is working with Duke Energy on research projects.

“How much generation do I need for all the growth that we expect to have happen?” he said. “Now they’re thinking about how much generation do I need for those people and do I need to change the poles and the wires to be able to support that?”

Earlier this month, the City of Charlotte showed off its new collection of electric cars and buses. Leaders say they spent 28 million on the fleet. In May, Arrival Automotive announced it’s building a micro-factory in West Charlotte to make electric vans for UPS.

With more people getting plugged into the EV industry, some are wondering if our grid can handle the extra load.

“Effectively charging your vehicle double the load that your house has,” Cox said. “That’s something that needs careful planning.”

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