Siler City, N.C. — Siler City officials declared an end to the town's water emergency after recent rains, but kept mandatory water-use restrictions in place.
The Rocky River Reservoir rose 11.5 feet after rains late last week, increasing its storage capacity to 120 days. Only on Thursday, town leaders said levels were down to 107.5 feet, giving the town a 65-day water supply, and they were scrambling to find an emergency source.
Mayor Charles L. Turner declared an end to the town's official water emergency status on Wednesday, but said the town remained in danger of a water shortage.
"With the uncertainty of future rainfall events and the pessimistic forecast, mandatory water restrictions will remain in place," Town Manager Joel Brower said in a release.
The mandatory regulations lessen one restriction: Residential and commercial customers must reduce water use by 20 percent, instead of 50 percent.
Commercial car washes must stay closed. The restrictions also make it unlawful to:
- water outdoor lawn, shrubbery, flowers or other outdoor vegetation.
- wash cars or other vehicles.
- wash outdoor areas, including sidewalks, patios and driveways.
- introduce water into a swimming pool or run water in a decorative fountain, pool or pond.
- use water for any nonessential use.
Siler City backed its water restrictions with strict consequences: a $500 hit for the fist violation, a civil injunction for the second, and termination of service within three days for a third.
"All water users are required to conserve water in every possible way," Brower said.
If the Rocky River Reservoir had dipped 15 ft below 125 ft, unprecedented restrictions – including water rationing – would have automatically kicked in.
Two poultry producers have been paying for trucks to haul about 90 loads of water every day from Jordan Lake to Siler City's reservoirs. The businesses need the water to stay in operation.
Town leaders are considering ways to fill up their reservoir. Sanford has agreed to sell up to 1 million gallons a day of its surplus water to Siler City. Chatham County had planned to connect the communities' water systems before the drought, but speeding up the process will cost Siler City an estimated $1 million.
Siler City might also build a $2.5 million pipe 4½ miles to Pittsboro to tap into its water supply.