Local News

Amid Drought, High-Dollar Homeowners Still Watering Lawns

Posted October 2, 2007
Updated October 3, 2007

— Raleigh's water supply continues to shrink, but that hasn't stopped residents in some pricey neighborhoods from watering their lawns.

Almost 270 citations have been handed out – six have been issued for repeat offenders – since the Stage 1 water restrictions went into effect Aug. 28.

According to a list obtained by WRAL, most of the violators live in new subdivisions with high-priced homes.

"I would not be happy with those people,” homeowner James Earp said.

Bedford at Falls River, Brier Creek and Heritage Wake Forest are home to many of the water violators. At least two dozen homeowners were cited in the Heritage subdivision.

“I think a lot of people are from out of town and just moved in and they don't have a clue,” said Eileen Wires, a Heritage homeowner.

“A lot of them, especially the older folks that move in, do not know how to operate their sprinkler systems,” said Gary Wires, another Heritage homeowner.

On Bedfordtown Drive, the city issued six citations. One homeowner was cited twice, bringing $1,200 in fines.

“The people here, maybe the ones that are violating, might feel that they can afford the additional cost of the water a lot more than some other areas,” Earp said.

The Stage 1 water restrictions apply to all Raleigh water customers, including those in Garner, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Knightdale, Wendell and Zebulon.

Stage 1 restrictions include:

  • Using sprinkler systems only between midnight and 10 a.m. on Tuesdays (odd-number addresses) or Wednesdays (even-number addresses).
  • Using hoses with sprinklers only from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesdays (odd-number addresses) or Wednesdays (even-number addresses).
  • Hand-held watering on the same times and days as sprinklers, as well as during those hours on Saturdays (odd-number addresses) or Sundays (even-number addresses).
  • Washing cars only on weekends, although commercial car washes can operate seven days a week.
  • Power-washing homes, sidewalks or driveways only on weekends, although commercial services can operate as normal.

A first violation is a $200 fine and a second is $1,000. A third violation results in water service being shut off.

Since the Stage 1 restrictions went into effect, consumption has dropped 18 percent. Customers use about 54.4 million gallons of water on an average day, down about 1 million gallons from the 30-day average.

But despite the lower demand, the water supply continues to dry up. Officials said in the worst-case scenario of no rain, Raleigh's primary reservoir, Falls Lake, will hit  its safe-pumping limit on Jan. 23. The lake level fell by more than 6 inches last week, and is now more than 7 feet below normal.


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  • BlowupDollWithChatAmbitions Oct 4, 2007

    I meant to add...I did not even know she was stealing from me until after hearing it that day, but my water bill rose from $186 for 3 months (the way that Miami bills is in 3 month increments), to well over $400.

  • BlowupDollWithChatAmbitions Oct 4, 2007

    Fred, I had this happen to me in Florida. One day, I heard my water actually cut on from outside (our system would "alert" us by using a special pipe that you can hear inside the home when it comes on). I caught my neighbors stealing my water. But, they had sent their kids to do it so they wouldn't get arrested. This woman managed to haver someone actually turn her water meter on after the city had cut her off for non-payment and bounced checks. At one point, she even had them hook-up in front of the water meter so the city could not prove how much she got. It was after that last time getting caught that she decided to steal from me.

  • onemakesadifference Oct 3, 2007

    I find it hard to believe that as low as the water supply is that some people are still watering their lawns. What are you people going to do when the water runs out? Are you that ignorant? I suppose that some things are more important than having water to drink.

  • jhnewman Oct 3, 2007

    Sorry WRAL, you won't sucker me in to commenting on this until I can comment on the three year old left walking down the street by himself, or the gang related shootings in Chapel Hill, or the four thugs in Fayetteville who attacked the teacher/coaches/principal, or the woman who drowned her two kids, or the bushwhacking murder...etc., etc.,

    You are guilty of some bland reporting of non-issues. Sorry, but you won't sucker me in on this one. You get your act together and let the public address the real issues or you will become....???

    Response from GOLO:
    Experience has taught us that certain topics and issues garner more mean-spirited comments than others and for that reason we are selective about the stories we open for comment or choose to moderate. Posting comments is a privilege we are pleased to offer our visitors but those that contain attacks on individuals, make unsubstantiated claims or generalizations about groups of people, or are meant to incite do not meet the standards we work to uphold.

    Angela Connor, Golo Managing Editor

  • dws Oct 3, 2007

    "What about all of the negros and mexicans at the care wash"

    not sure about the "care wash"....more importantly, what about everyone else at the care wash, hmmmmmm????

  • llbristol Oct 3, 2007

    I say we all start acting like the members of an intelligent society that we are supposed to be and conserve our valuable resources. Stop acting like children, trying to get away with whatever you can when "Big Brother" isn't watching. Be responsible adults and give our children the proper role models they need and deserve.

    Those of you with entitlement issues who keep breaking the conservation rules (2nd offense or more) SHOULD be posted in the news so everyone knows who you are. Maybe if the public at large personally confronted you (at the store or work, etc) for your selfishness, the message would get through to you since you obviously don't care that you must pay fines. Most people care more for their reputations (must keep up appearances) than their money anyway.

    Naturally, people who can afford "higher-priced" homes can afford to throw their money away on fines. But when they can't pay their way out of trouble, they may straighten up!

    Just my humble opinion...

  • llbristol Oct 3, 2007

    First of all: To the person complaining that this story is against the supposed upper-class, BOO! It is against anyone self-centered enough to waste our precious water reserves in the name of vanity ("MY grass looks better than yours!"). Judging by your reaction, I'd say you are one of these people. Get over yourself. The world does NOT revolve around YOU!

    As for the idea that it's OUR water being used up, we are not the only ones in this predicament. The WORLD'S water supply is being rapidly consumed and conservation is not just an option, it is a necessity! It's time we started seriously considering the condition of the world we are leaving for our children. We are beings of 90% water and if we consume all of the water in the world, not only will we kill off all of the animals & vegetation, but we will also exterminate ourselves as a race!

    It doesn't matter if your grass is brown. It doesn't matter is your car is dirty. It doesn't matter if the exterior of your home isn't spotless!

  • mossy Oct 3, 2007

    The sad thing is if you cut someone's water off for a month it is cheaper for them to rent a hotel room near crabtree and shower etc. for the month and wait it out than to pay the reconnection fees/fines.

    Most people don't have the foggiest idea how to actually conserve water or make the most possible use of water. During the summer how much water do you think ran down your home's A/C unit from Condensation from the Hot Hot Days? It would fill an outdoor baby pool from Wal-Mart/Target 2x over. That is water that cost you nothing, would've been wasted with exception of one spot on your lawn, and is useless to the city in it's quantity.

  • billy Oct 3, 2007

    Make those that violate the rules pay heavily.
    Institute more restrictions now while there is still water in the lake.
    Treat everyone fairly and equally.

  • Navaho1 Oct 3, 2007

    I frequently drive from rural eastern NC through Raleigh and then on to Falls Lake. If Falls Lake is Raleigh's main water source, then extreme measures need to be taken now.

    Here in rural NC - if you were seen out watering a Lawn - people would think you a bit daff - whether there was a drought or not. If you water it then you gotta mow it!!

    I do not believe Wake is taking this drought very seriously.