Local News

New Chatham County Restrictions to Hit Residents, Car Washes, Firefighting

Posted October 22, 2007

— New restrictions issued by Chatham County on Monday will impact the way residents, car washes and fire departments use water, beginning next week.

Under what are known as Stage 3-B limits, county water customers will be banned from using all types of outdoor irrigation systems after next Monday. Watering by hand in urgent situations is permitted, but the county urged people to use private well water or recycled water. Water can be caught in rain buckets or bathtubs while the shower is running, county officials said.

Commercial car washes using county water were ordered to cease operation until further notice. Under Stage 2 restrictions, residents already had been banned from washing vehicles at home.

Fire departments were instructed to use raw water in place of county water whenever possible.

The upgraded Stage 3-B restrictions take effect on Oct. 29 and apply primarily to customers in northeastern Chatham County, who are served by Jordan Lake.

"I know that this ban represents a serious hardship for many people, and we do not take this lightly," County Manager Charlie Horne said. "However, we are at the point that we have no choice but to take action to protect our limited water resources as best we can."

Levels at Jordan Lake are nearly 6 feet below normal, and the U.S. Drought Monitor placed Chatham County in the highest drought category two weeks ago.

"Many communities across the state are in the same boat, and many are in worse shape," Horne said. "Much of our state, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia are in severe drought conditions, which means that we are not likely to get help from surrounding areas."

No warnings will be issued for violating Stage 3-B restrictions. A first violation will bring a $250 fine, and a second one a $500 penalty. For a third violation, the county will shut off the offender's water service.

Chatham County restrictions do not apply to customers on municipal systems, including Siler City and Cary. However, those customers must follow restrictions imposed by local authorities.

Stage 3-B restrictions also stipulate:

  • Filling or refilling any swimming or wading pools, ponds, fountains or similar items is banned. Customers cannot add even small amounts of water to bring these up to normal levels.
  • County water cannot be used to wash outside areas, including building exteriors, streets, driveways, decks, parking lots, service station aprons, patios or other impervious surfaces.
  • Water-cooled or other equipment that does not recycle cooling water can be operated only when health and safety are impacted.
  • Fire hydrants are to be used only for putting out fires or other public emergencies.
  • Customers should not use water for dust control or to compact soil.
  • Customers should avoid any activities that waste county water supplies.

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  • simplelogic Oct 23, 2007

    I'm also on a well in Chatham County. I've been monitoring our water usage for months now, including shorter showers, no car washing, dishwasher only when full, not topping off our swimming pool. We recently sold the pool, so I've been draining it the past couple days. The deer and birds are loving the puddle it's making.

  • Scarecrow Cow Oct 22, 2007

    weasleyes - thanks for not thumbing your nose at us county water people and wasting large volumes of H2O. A lot of people on wells are just letting it flow right now, but if water sources dry up it's going to impact everyone regardless of where they get their water. It's awesome that you're doing your part even though the water police aren't forcing you into it. Thank you.

  • ghimmy47 Oct 22, 2007

    Sooner or later it will be impossible to ignore that clean water is the most valuable substance on Earth. We can't survive dumping all our waste into the environment.

  • coldstone66 Oct 22, 2007

    i only take a shower once a week now fridays only....so what if i smell i got water for now............

  • coldstone66 Oct 22, 2007


  • weasleyes Oct 22, 2007

    We are a family of 3, on a private, 175' well that has never been known to go dry in over 30 years. However, we still are conserving water. I am retired, so I shower/shave every other day. I have a bucket beside my shower to catch the pre-heat water. My adult son's bathroom backs up to mine and he works, so he showers daily. We try to coordinate it so that I shower after he finishes with his, so that the water is still warm, then I shave. These are low-volume, Navy showers. We do not water our lawn, and my truck has not been washed in months. My son is young, and appearance is important, but he washes his car only once/week, using 2 gallons of water. An electric toothbrush uses only ounces of water, including rinses. My wife's hobby is gardening, and we have a fortune invested in plants, but she has started hand-watering. Neighbors tell me, "You don't have to worry, that well will never go dry." I tell them that is good for me, but how about others?

  • whatelseisnew Oct 22, 2007

    Well I appreciate that the county has no problem if the wells are run dry. I know they can not control what the homeowner with a private well does with their water, but geez don't encourage them to use it. Encourage them to conserve. All of us need to conserve.

  • Gunslinger Oct 22, 2007

    And so it begins.....