Local News

Low Lake Levels, Drought May Force Raleigh To Tighten Water Restrictions

Posted September 4, 2002

— Low lake levels and the drought may force the Raleigh City Council to tighten the taps even more. Councilmembers are considering moving to the next stage of water restrictions.

Small sprinklers take a big toll on Raleigh's water supply. Residents are allowed to run them every other day, but during dry weather, city officials say lawn watering alone can double the city's water usage.

"We went through two weeks with no rain and demand crept up to 60 million gallons per day, but yesterday it was 31.7 (million). That's almost a 50 percent swing," public utilities director Dale Crisp said.

The city may solve the problem by limiting lawn watering to once a week, but that plan does not sit well with some residents. Helen Moody has lived in the same house with the same manicured lawn for 50 years. She said she is already conserving water indoors and out.

"I don't like it, but I sure will put up with it. If that's what we need to do, we have to do it," she said. "[I] wash dishes once a day at night. I take about a five-minute shower. Don't stay in and enjoy it like I used to."

Since mandatory restrictions went into place, officials say average daily water use is down from 55 million gallons a day to about 49 million. The recent rainfall helped, but Falls Lake is still five feet below normal.

"Certainly with the rain we've received, there's no reason to be overly restrictive," Crisp said.

The mayor and city manager will meet to decide when Raleigh should move to Level 2, but officials say that probably would not happen for another week.

In Wake County, the rainfall did not have a big impact at Raleigh's main source for water. Falls Lake rose about a foot in the last week; however, levels at the lake drop about one inch every two days. Water levels at Jordan Lake, which supplies Cary and several other small town, only went up about a foot.

At Lake Michie, one of Durham's sources for water, docks are still out of the water. However, the water level at Lake Michie rose about 10 feet after last week's rains.

The rains also had an impact on Lake Orange, which supplies Hillsborough. Its level went up almost two feet. The rains also added an additional 31 days to the town's dwindling water supply.

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