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Water Shortage Declared for Chapel Hill, Carrboro District

Posted September 28, 2007

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— Officials declared a Stage 1 water shortage in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and nearby areas of Orange County on Friday.

The declaration means that Stage 1 water-use restrictions also take place immediately in areas serviced by the Orange Water and Sewer Authority.

The declaration came one day after OWASA announced it's implementing a variable rate structure on Oct. 1. Customers will be charged higher rates as they use more water.

The goal of the restrictions is to reduce water use by 10 percent. Despite a call for voluntary conservation in August, September's daily water use is up to 11 million gallons from the average 9.6 million, OWASA officials said.

Water levels at University Lake and the Cane Creek Reservoirs are down by 42 percent, and water supply is at a 175-day level.

The restrictions include the following mandates:

  • Residential customers' consumption must be under a daily average of 1,000 gallons during any monthly billing cycle.
  • Customers can use spray irrigation for even-numbered properties on Tuesdays and odd-numbered properties on Thursdays between 8 p.m. and 9 a.m. All irrigation is limited to 0.5 inches of water a week. Watering container plants and commercial plant stock is exempt.
  • Customers can do other types of irrigation, including hand-held watering, at any time, but still may apply no more than 0.5 inches of water a week.
  • Re-filling ornamental fountains, ponds and such devices and washing paved areas are banned. Pressure-cleaning exterior building surfaces and cleaning public health hazards are exempt.

Violations in Chapel Hill will result in a misdemeanor carrying a $50 fine or imprisonment not exceeding 30 days.

Violations in unincorporated areas will carry a $25 for the first offense, $50 for the second offense and $100 for any additional offense within a 30-day period.

OWASA did not say if penalties will be in effect in Carrboro.

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