Local News

Raleigh Tightening Valve on Outdoor Water Uses

Posted August 22, 2007

— The continuing drought has prompted the city to implement tougher water restrictions, beginning next Tuesday.

The Stage 1 water restrictions come less than two months after Raleigh implemented mandatory limits on water consumption within the city. Residents in Garner, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Knightdale, Wendell and Zebulon, which all buy water from the city, also have been under Raleigh's mandated limits.

Despite the earlier limits on lawn-watering, Raleigh shattered its record for one-day water consumption by using 77 million gallons of water on Aug. 9. The city consumes about 60 million gallons on an average day.

The Stage 1 restrictions, which were recommended by a city task force last year to ensure an adequate year-round water supply, include the following:

  • Sprinkler systems can be used only between midnight and 10 a.m. on Tuesday (odd-number addresses) or Wednesday (even-number addresses).
  • Hoses with sprinklers can be used only from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesday (odd-number addresses) or Wednesday (even-number addresses).
  • Hand-held watering can be done on the same times and days as sprinklers, as well as during those times on Saturday (odd-number addresses) or Sunday (even-number addresses).
  • Cars can be washed only on weekends, although commercial car washes will be allowed to operate seven days a week.
  • Power-washing homes, sidewalks or driveways can be done only on weekends, although commercial services will be allowed to operate as normal.

"We're going from three days (a week) down to one, and we're also restricting the hours on your assigned day (as to) when you can irrigate," said Dale Crisp, Raleigh public utilities director.

First-time violators face a $200 fine, while someone violating the restrictions a second time would be fined $1,000. A third violation would lead to the city shutting off water to the residence, Crisp said.

"In a large part, people who complain about this need to be a little bit introspective and wonder if they're part of the problem," City Councilman Philip Isley said.

A new home on Grand Journey Avenue in the Bedford at Falls River development in north Raleigh is the only residence that has been flagged four times by city inspectors for violations of existing lawn-watering rules. Two other nearby homes have been cited three times each.

Developer Scott Kirby said the Grand Journey Avenue home, which is unoccupied, and a mistake by a lawn company maintaining the house while it is on the market led to the violations. The contractor was using the lot number instead of the street address to determine when to water, Kirby said, adding that he hopes to negotiate the penalty with city officials.

The decision to move to Stage 1 restrictions comes one day after local, state and federal officials predicted that drought conditions across North Carolina would continue. The state needs 12 to 18 inches of rainfall to ease drought conditions, officials said, but the developing La Niña global weather pattern likely means more dry weather in the coming months.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reported that the water level in Falls Lake is down 4 feet from normal and the remaining water supply pool is 62 percent.

"The lack of rainfall translates into extremely low stream flows, and the lack of streamflow translates into little or no recharge at the lake itself," Crisp said.

Based on current customer demand, the water supply in Falls Lake could be exhausted by early January if extreme weather conditions continue, Crisp said.

"(Falls Lake is) our most valuable resource," Isley said. "What we're trying to do is protect that as strongly and vigilantly as possible.

"My hope is we're going to have a storm come through," Isley said. "You never pray for a hurricane or tropical storm, but that's what we really need."

If the city doesn't see water usage go down in the coming weeks and the drought continues unabated, the city could put Stage 2 restricitons in place, Crisp said.

"Stage 2 takes a very conservative approach. It eliminates lawn irrigation altogether," he said, noting some homes certified by city inspectors would be exempt from those stiffer rules.


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  • Darren Aug 24, 2007

    "It's simple, fine everybody who has a well manicured green lawn that's been over watered for endangering the public good.

    Raleigh should ban the sale and seeding of fescue and require people to plant bermuda, centipede, zoysia, and other low water usage warm weather grasses."

    Ah, yes--more violence (government force) is the solution to our problems--problems which are actually the result of government force.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Aug 24, 2007

    It's simple, fine everybody who has a well manicured green lawn that's been over watered for endangering the public good.

    Raleigh should ban the sale and seeding of fescue and require people to plant bermuda, centipede, zoysia, and other low water usage warm weather grasses.

  • richard2 Aug 23, 2007

    We will still be watering grass when the water runs out.

  • greg234 Aug 23, 2007

    Councilman Isley has a lot of nerve with his statement, maybe he should have some introspective and realize that HE IS a part of the problem.. The city continues to build homes at a rate and pace that is far greater then the infrastructure can handle. Im starting to think Raleigh is as poorly run as Cary is. Slow the growth, let the infrastructure catch up and dont make stupid comments about people complaining.

  • shine Aug 23, 2007

    Jeremiah...... What I meant is they are 2 very opposing articles - I don't think the Legislative building needs to be running sprinkler - no matter where they obtained the water. These counties and much of the state are in a drought and I don't think it is a good reflection for them to run sprinklers and ask the rest of everyone to use plastic utensils, paper plates, don't wash your car, don't water your lawn......

    Conservation is a MUST right now - What is good for the goose is good for the gander.............

  • TheWB Aug 23, 2007

    I would propose a Tennessee Valley Authority type national project (depression era project, building dams and reservoirs) to build a network of flood controlling pipes from the flood prone Midwest to the arid South and Southwest. We can have a water shed transfer of their excess water into our feeder rivers and streams as a way of both alleviating their economy crushing floods and at the same time replenish our economically disastrous droughts. Should we ourselves find that we too are in a flood situation (about every 10 years) -vs- (their annual occurrences) and are unable to pass the excessive flow onto the ocean, then oh well, it's still better than every year. Such a project would in the long run save immeasurable economic damage and in the short term help the economy by providing jobs. Win/win.

  • gopanthers Aug 23, 2007

    I think I'm going to re-landscape my yard. Sand - Boulders -Rocks and Catus and just call it a day. LOL - I'll bring Arizona to N.C.

  • TB in Raleigh Aug 23, 2007

    Just a couple of comments...

    If the grass truly dies, rather than going dormant, the resulting erosion when the rains come will be awful. Granted, it would be nice if something other than grass had been planted, but there will be bad results if we let it all die at once.

    As for well users - we are using up the ground water, regardless of how we get that water. Well users should conserve, too; the wells are getting low. It takes 6 weeks or more for rain to reach groundwater levels, and the soil is SO dry that any rain will never get that low before it's used; the upper levels have to get their rain first. If you got rain this morning, go check the ground tomorrow afternoon - I bet it will be bone dry again.

  • Darren Aug 23, 2007

    "I never said I desired what you refer to as a "coercively controlled society"...all I've said is that of the alternatives available, the current system is a lot more realistic than the libertarian ideal you propose."

    Realistic, huh? That's interesting. If I recall, that's the same thing a lot of people said in the 1800s when their neighbors started suggesting the radical idealistic notion of abolishing slavery.

    "So what is your answer to the person whose weakness is that they don't have water and can't afford it and the person whose strength is that they have water to sell? I'm guessing that the poor person better hope the water seller is more generous than human nature normally implies."

    Actually, human nature appears to be basically good when left to itself. It's when government gets involved that people start behaving like animals (because they're responding to an entity that bases its decisions on power and politics rather than value).

  • TB in Raleigh Aug 23, 2007

    stinkachu73 - most car washes recycle/reclaim their water, and do some pretreatment before dumping the dirty water, so it uses less than even a careful home job.