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Durham’s Lake Michie expansion project continues

Durham City has added another 20.2 acres to the properties it now owns around Lake Michie, as part of the city’s ongoing project to acquire land for the lake’s possible expansion.

The city paid $200,000 for a tract along Pat Tilley Road.

At the May 7 city council meeting, Mayor Steve Schewel expressed unusual enthusiasm about the purchase.

“Awesome,” he said. “Still my favorite program in history.”

But Durham’s Department of Water Management says there is no current plan to expand Lake Michie and that the purchases are just a “passive” program to protect water quality.

“These are buffer properties, and this is an entirely passive program,” said spokeswoman Jennifer Smart. “Beyond source water protection, this also would give the city the option of expanding the lake if such a project were needed to enlarge the water supply – but this would be decades in the future.”

The “Lake Michie expansion project” goes back to 1988. Lake Michie along with Little River are the primary water supplies for Durham.

Since the program started, the city has bought 1,529 acres, according to the city’s real estate department. Of that, 402 acres had been acquired since 2012.

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