Local News

Fire Department Not to Blame for Johnston Co. Water Restrictions

Posted May 30, 2007

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— Johnston County leaders say a lack of rain is to blame for the imposition current water restrictions, not a volunteer fire department that used more than 300,000 gallons of water to refill ponds drained to fight a fire that burned for weeks at a local yard-waste facility.

The county asked residents to begin conserving water last week after discovering the water level of the Neuse River was low.

Officials initially thought a water main break caused the low levels, but then realized the Archer Lodge Volunteer Fire Department had refilled ponds after new hot spots popped up at Stump Dump Inc., where a spontaneous fire broke out and burned for days before firefighters were able to bring it under control.

Fire Chief Pete Barnes said his department did what it thought was best for the safety of the community and did not know there was a water concern.

County Manager Rick Hester admitted Wednesday there was some miscommunication, but said the fire department is not to blame for the restrictions.

"The isolated situation last week has absolutely nothing to do with the situation we're in now," Hester said.

Instead, lack of rain and low Neuse River levels are to blame for the need for water restrictions, he said.

The plan announced Tuesday calls for mandatory restrictions on watering at residences and non-agricultural businesses who get water through the four municipal systems and two companies that the county supplies.

There are no penalties, for now. The county is focused on cutting daily usage now so the water that flows now will continue to flow in the future.

The current mandatory water conservation allows businesses and residences with addresses ending in odd numbers to water on odd-numbered days Tuesdays through Sundays and even-numbered properties on even days. The county says no one may water on Mondays.


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  • eli Jun 1, 2007

    But HAD the stump dump not caught on fire, the 300,000 gallons would not have been used. Why is WRAL not talking about that???

    It has been reported the dump was in violation... and by the way, the dump burned for weeks, not days as reported in this article.

  • NCTeacher May 31, 2007

    It is so dry here. Whether it is the fire departments fault or not, you can't deny that the Neuse is low AND we need a good rain. Several good rains actually.

  • Politically Honest NOT PC May 31, 2007

    If WRAL would have reported the reason the Fire Dept. filled the pond in the first story, there would not have been a secon story. Use the news to create news. Good Job WRAL

  • historians4th May 31, 2007

    In a previous story(just a few days ago) Mr.Hester blamed an unknown person or business (unknown at that time) of causing a water shortage because they depleted the water of Johnston County over night. After they found out it was the fire dept. they are retracting their previous accusation.

  • Xiaoding May 31, 2007

    It's now official! Johnston county officials are as dumb as any in Florida!

    The water "shortage" may have a lot to do with the housing "surplus". In other words, too many houses have been built for the water to support, morons! There is no shortage, this is the result of greedy people building too much, and county officials looking the other way because they are making money off it. Less building permits = less permit money coming in.

  • ladyblue May 30, 2007

    Superdad I agree with you.Thanks for telling the truth of the story. Usually rumors always run afoul in times like these. I tried to recall back a warning about the water. I guess I over looked it in the clayton town news letter mailed monthly. By all means if those farmers were volunteering their water they should be refilled. Were the ponds filled on the same farm or different farms? People do not believe our resouces are dwindling, and I don't think they can comprehend this. I'd heard a rumor the reservoir was drained so it's no telling what other rumors are said. Something must be done to slow growth in this county.

  • adl0513 May 30, 2007

    I agree with you Superdad412! The Fire Department is NOT the blame here. How would these folks feel if it were there property that had caught on fire? They would want it put out as soon as possible! Seriously people, think about this....when is the last time that we had a really good rain?

  • superdad412 May 30, 2007

    In rural areas many ponds are used by their owners to irrigate their crops in the drier summer months. Should they suffer a loss of their income because of their generosity? They are certainly under no obligation to reduce your insurance premium by allowing fire departments to take their water. Your fire is not their problem unless it burns onto their property... where the water just happens to be located.

    I would be curious to know who is doing the complaining that prompted this story. I would tell them to get off the fire department's back! Those people serve you and spend money from their own pockets in doing so. I would also add... if you don't want your insurance premiums to quadruple, you should do all you can to keep your local volunteer fire department in business. Donate your time and money. It requires very little of both if more people would get involved.

  • superdad412 May 30, 2007

    I support the Archer's Lodge Fire Department's decision to refill their available water sources. Every square foot of NC has a "fire rating" from a #1 - #9. Fire ratings determine how much you will pay in insurance premiums. The lower the number, the lower the premium. Available water sources are just one component the state uses to calculate fire ratings in every fire district. In rural settings, fire departments must obtain written permission from property owners to draft water from their property and for the state to give credit for that water source toward reducing the fire rating in that area. Typically a draft operation from a pond will not drain the pond. This was an extraordinary fire requiring an extraordinary water flow. When those ponds were drained other property owners in the area were not benefiting from the water sources that should have been available in the event they had an emergency that was more worthy than a pile of stumps.