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State, Local Officials Push for Cuts in Water Demand

Posted October 23, 2007

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— Raleigh and Durham are among 17 water systems statewide that are nearing a crisis-level shortage, with fewer than 100 days of water supply left, officials said Tuesday.

But Gov. Mike Easley said solving a water crisis is simple – cut consumption as much as possible.

"This is a lot simpler than it looks. I'm not saying it's easy, but it's simple," Easley said. "The individual user – you and me – if we can cut back significantly, then we've got this thing whipped."

More rain also would help, and WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said central North Carolina should see widespread rain in the coming days.

Rain should start falling after noon Wednesday and last through much of Thursday, Fishel said. By the weekend, many areas are likely to have received at least 1 inch of rain, and some spots might see 2 inches or more, he said.

Easley on Monday asked for everyone in North Carolina to reduce daily water consumption by half over the next week to get a sense of what would be required if the state reaches a crisis in the coming months and to see which solutions work in which areas.

The 17 water systems in near-crisis is almost triple the six in that category a week ago, said Woody Yonts, chairman of the North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council. Another 80 of the state's 604 local water systems are vulnerable or being closely monitored by state officials, he said.

"We're going to probably have to start doing a better job of managing at the local level as far as recognizing the long-term needs," Yonts said. "Let's roll up the sleeves to move forward so we'll be ready."

Raleigh enacted tougher water restrictions Tuesday, outlawing sprinklers and personal car washing. First-time violators face a $200 fine, while a second violation brings a $1,000 fine and those who break the rules a third time will have their water turned off.

The so-called "Stage 1.5" restrictions are designed to eliminate the spikes in consumption seen in recent weeks on the two days  each week when lawn watering was allowed. People still are allowed to water with a hand-held hose or watering can on one day each weekend.

More than half of North Carolina's 600-plus water systems have no restrictions for the 24 percent of the state's population that they serve. Even if they have adequate water supplies, Easley said, they should also limit consumption because the other parts of the state might need to tap into their reserves later.

"This is all new. There is no playbook for this, and it's going to take everybody participating," he said.

Raleigh resident Will Hooker, a horticulture science professor at North Carolina State University, is trying to do his part by capturing rainwater that runs off his roof and recycling water from his shower and kitchen sink to water the vegetable garden and fruit trees he uses to raise about 20 percent of the food he eats.

"We're trying to set an example. This is a sustainable living model," Hooker said. "Some people would say that it's extreme. I just think it's rationale. ... To me, this is what we need to do."

Falls Lake, Raleigh's primary reservoir, is about 8 feet below normal levels, and local officials are looking at ways to extend its capacity, from treating the sediment-heavy water at the bottom of the lake to pulling water from Lake Benson and Lake Wheeler.

Easley said such proposals and home conservations ideas should provide state officials with the blueprint they need to get a handle on managing water supplies statewide.

"If we run into water problems or run out and have to ration, it's our fault because we've got plenty of notice and we know what we've got to do," he said.

156 Comments

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  • Wuff_Pack Oct 24, 2007

    The State should have gone to higher restrictions back in August instead of waiting for now.

  • thewayitis Oct 24, 2007

    I wonder if they's stopped watering the lawn at the governor's mansion?

  • BLEYESKAREN Oct 24, 2007

    CAN SOMEONE PLEASE EXPLAIN TO ME WHY NEW BUSINESS / COMMERCIAL SHOPPING CENTERS ARE ALLOWED TO WATER EACH DAY DURING THIS CRISIS? THE NEW SHOPPING CENTER AT 10/10 AND KILDAIRE WATERS EVERY EVENING.... IS CARY EXEMPT FROM ANY RESTRICTIONS.. OR DOES CARY SIMPLY HAVE TO COMPLY ONLY WITH THOSE MANDATED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE TOWN? DOESN'T MAKE SENSE TO ME, YOU CAN LIMIT THE NUMBER OF PETS, HANGING LAUNDRY IN THE YARD, EVEN THE HEIGHT OF YOUR GRASS BUT YET, YOU ARE ALLOWED TO WATER IN CARY?
    HMMMMMMMMMM!!!

  • Krusty Brown Pucker Oct 24, 2007

    Stony Bend subdivision in Wake County is still watering the street every morning with their poorly installed irrigation system. The are outside city limits so I guess they are untouchable. But, they pump from the same aquifer that I do, so, yes, I have a problem with that.

  • dianadarling Oct 24, 2007

    You can report Durham Water violations here

    http://www.ci.durham.nc.us/departments/wm/water_report_form.cfm

    I do not think Raleigh has a similar site. They would get too many reports!

  • Notinitforthemoney Oct 24, 2007

    Come on people if its that bad do as other states have done in the past. Go to the federal level and ask for state of emergency funds. For example Rocky Mount is paying $450.000.00 to construct lines to go to wilson to get water. I'm sure the federal govt would help with that if the city declared a state of emergency.

  • whatelseisnew Oct 23, 2007

    Easley was better off when he was not saying anything about the drought. Is it me or is this man as dumb as he sounds. Either that or someone dumped some JD in his punch bowl.

  • nerdlywehunt Oct 23, 2007

    Hey Gov......NO MORE DEVELOPMENT until the infrasctructure catches up.

  • coolwill Oct 23, 2007

    don't forget your storm water fee is do.

  • Mean Old Mom Oct 23, 2007

    Saw three neighbors in Saint Andrews of Wake Forest watering their lawns this morning in broad daylight. Why set rules or have guidelines if there is no enforcement...but then these are probably the same people that race at breakneck speed down 540. They all do it because they know that they can get away with it without consequences. Shame on all of them!

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