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Near-Record Water Use Could Increase Restrictions

Posted July 12, 2007

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— As Raleigh residents pushed water use to near record highs Tuesday, city officials said that could push them to impose more stringent water restrictions.

On Tuesday, residents and communities on the Raleigh system came close to a record for water use for the second time in four days.

Tuesday marked the fourth-highest amount of water drawn from the city's main water treatment plant, and Saturday saw the third-highest amount.

The near-records came even though the city adopted permanent, mandatory restrictions on July 2.

“The fact that we’re in the water rest now and set a third-highest record during that period, I am a little concerned about it,” said Dale Crisp, Raleigh’s Public Utilities Director.

Code-enforcement officers going door-to-door said they have given warnings to more than 200 people who violated the water restrictions. The restrictions limit the use of lawn-irrigation systems to three days a week.

Crisp expressed surprise at those high numbers.

“If you compare that to the number of citations we issued over a seven-month period in the drought we experienced at the end of 2005 … We only issued 546 for that whole period, so here we've already issued 207 in the first nine days,” said Crisp.

If such high water use continues, city officials said they may impose more stringent rules as early as next month. Under those restrictions, lawn watering would be permitted only one day a week.

Residents said that limit would be unpopular.

“I don’t want to imagine that,” said Ivette Rivera, a resident of Knightdale.

The Raleigh Public Utilities Department has distributed 150,000 magnets with the watering schedule printed on them.

Residents at even-numbered addresses may water their lawns on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, and those at odd-numbered addresses on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. All watering is banned on Monday.

Violators are first given a warning, followed by fines. Repeat violators could have their water turned off.

Raleigh implemented the restrictions to lessen the threat of a water shortage during an ongoing drought. The Falls Lake watershed, from which Raleigh draws its water, is in a moderate drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

58 Comments

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  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Jul 13, 2007

    My neighbor is an even numbered house and waters everyday including odd numbered house days. How do I turn my neighbor in.

  • Dr Dirt Jul 13, 2007

    Nancy -

    Sounds like you are one of the lucky ones. Wish what little Zoysia I had was as tough as your Centipede. Generally speaking, in the Piedmont, the closer you get towards Fayetteville, the less likely you will have damage. The closer you get to Virginia, the more likely you will see damage.

    Localized conditions (i.e., micro-climates) maybe such that the general trend does not hold true. Bottom line, years and years of research are what have established the recommendations in the Carolina Lawns publication I previously referenced.

  • whatelseisnew Jul 13, 2007

    Obviously the cure for this is to move many thousands more people into downtown Raleigh. Ya see this means more people paying and it only makes sense that somehow this will create a larger supply of water for everyone to share.

  • Nancy Jul 12, 2007

    "It is a cold tolerance issue. We are in a transition zone where warm season grasses (Bermuda, Centipede, St. Augustine and Zoysia) will ofter suffer from freeze damage."

    Dr. Dirt - thanks. However, we've lived here since 1993, never have lost any centipede due to weather conditions. Now we HAVE had our son during his growing up years with a 4 wheeler and then a dirt bike tear the living daylights out of it (we have 4 acres, two wooded, two lawn, and his tracks were pretty dug in which killed it. But within less than two years, you couldn't find it anymore, completely backfilled itself.

  • dws Jul 12, 2007

    the key is getting everyone to understand how much watering is required to SURVIVE the dry periods, not necessarily having a lush green lawn every day....

    last year, Cary had a boil water mandate due to contamination concerns for an illegal water connection.....trust me, the inconvenience alone helps you see what truly is important regarding water consumption.....

    we all take it for granted, but readily available and safe water is a gift

  • rand321 Jul 12, 2007

    before they go hell bent on issuing more restrictions, they should let these sink in some more. They started right when we had our hottest period of the season. People might be watering on their days, even if they normally do not water because of the restrictions.

    I myself watered the heck out of stuff on Saturday, my day. Why, because the weather reports said hot and dry and I knew I had committments to prevent me from watering on my Tuesday date. if they go to one day a week watering, I think I would and a lot of others would water the heck out of stuff to make sure the ground was wet enough until your next day.

    Thus, the restrictions might cause us to use more water than we normally would. They might want to change the permanent year round to automatic and commericial users (require water rain sensor and timers) and implement non automatic watering restrictions if lake levels reach a certain point. we got along for awhile last year on voluntary restrictions during a muc

  • aquamama Jul 12, 2007

    tarheel: Let me remind you of your words from 11:41 this morning:

    "...This is not a drought problem this year. The permanent restrictions were put into place because the city has not invested appropriately in water treatment facilities. Please don't make this seem like a vanity issue. This is a failure of local government."

    Also, greening up your lawn in the spring is not going to sustain it all year. Unless you spray paint it. ;)

  • tarheel1980 Jul 12, 2007

    Aquamama; I am not arguing that we are in dry conditions now. I think you will agree, however, that we are not always in a drought. My point has been that if we could use the water in the spring of the year, when it is normally plentiful, we could establish our lawns without impacting the water available during the hottest months.

  • Dr Dirt Jul 12, 2007

    Nancy et al -

    For more information on proper lawn care, check out the NC Cooperative Extension Service publication "Carolina Lawns." It is available at:

    http://www.turffiles.ncsu.edu/pubs/extension/CarolinaLawnsAccessible.pdf

    There is also a great Fescue Maintenance calendar:
    http://www.turffiles.ncsu.edu/pubs/management/ag367.html

    as well as a Bermuda calendar (http://www.turffiles.ncsu.edu/pubs/management/ag431.html) and Zoysia calendar (http://www.turffiles.ncsu.edu/pubs/management/ag432.html)

  • Dr Dirt Jul 12, 2007

    Nancy -

    It is a cold tolerance issue. We are in a transition zone where warm season grasses (Bermuda, Centipede, St. Augustine and Zoysia) will ofter suffer from freeze damage. 90 miles south of here, fescue would be a huge no-no. 90 miles north of here, the warm season grasses would be a no-no. My neighborhood is about 50/50. Half of the lawns are fescue, the other half is warm season (about an even split between bermuda and Zoysia.) I'm keeping a close eye on some of the new Zoysia cultivars hoping some of the them will work in our climate.

    I have a tad bit of it in the strip between my house and my neighbors. It absolutely beautiful this time of year. Its in an area that isn't irrigated so it does brown some during the summer, but yesterday's storms uncurled the leaves and its as green as ever now. Only problem, every few years an extreme cold snap thins that section and it may take 3-4 years to completely recover.

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