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Raleigh Pushes Businesses, Small Towns to Save Water

Posted November 8, 2007

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— After focusing on residential water use in recent months, Raleigh officials on Thursday started pushing for more conservation by local businesses.

Meanwhile, some city officials want area towns that buy water from Raleigh to enforce water restrictions more tightly.

The city's "Stage 1.5" restrictions, which were implemented two weeks ago, were designed to spare businesses that depend on water any adverse impacts. The rules banned sprinklers for outdoor watering and personal washing of cars.

Ed Buchan, water conservation specialist with Raleigh's Department of Public Utilities, is meeting with the city's top commercial water users, including WakeMed and the Wake County school system, and has asked them to submit detailed conservation plans to help the city cope with the ongoing drought.

"We're sort of taking stock of what they have done and what they can do for us," Buchan said. "What we'd like to see them do is actually implement (a conservation plan), that they are following through and they can report that to us."

The school district, for example, has promised to stop irrigating all athletic fields.

But the effort isn't backed up by any city ordinance, so city officials are relying on businesses to cooperate and conserve voluntarily.

"It's not citeable under our current ordinances, but we believe they will be responsible," City Manager Russell Allen said. "We all need to work together – both our citizens and business – to make sure we are prepared to go through these drought periods."

Alsco Textile Cleaning Co. is trying to do its part to conserve water, General Manager Chris Strickland said. The company used about 166,000 gallons of water daily before the drought and has trimmed that to about 102,000 gallons a day, he said.

"We decided to take steps before someone came (and forced us). So, we took those steps. We've cut out our second shift and reduced the gallons of water. We're surprised we cut could cut that much," Strickland said.

"To stay in business, we all have to conserve and help one another," he said.

Raleigh officials said they also would like to see more help from some area towns that buy water from the city and must adhere to its restrictions.

Since Raleigh put its water restrictions in place in late August, city inspectors have issued 295 violation notices. First-time violators are fined $200, and a repeat violation brings a $1,000.

No one has yet had a third violation, which results in the termination of water service.

Wake Forest water customers have been cited 48 times, and Garner has issued 27 violations. At the other end of the scale, Rolesville has issued three violations, Zebulon two and Knightdale and Wendell one each.

"We're not doing a good job of enforcement across our service area," Raleigh City Councilwoman Jessie Taliaferro said. "Statistically, it wouldn't work that way. You would have more violators than that."

The city needs more inspectors patrolling for water violators and should have a 24-hour hotline for people to report violations, Taliaferro said.

Allen said he doesn't support the idea of a 24-hour hotline, and he has no plans to hire any more inspectors.

"Those are fairly small systems," he said of the four towns that have combined for eight violations. "I think that in small communities messages get out, too."

Allen cited a reduction in  overall demand as a signal that conservation efforts are working.

"That's where you measure success – not simply in how many violations or citations you issue – so that's where we've focused our work," he said.

16 Comments

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  • lizard Nov 10, 2007

    Oh yeah! All you little towns out there quit using water so we can grow bigger here in Raleigh. Stupidity!!!!

  • weasleyes Nov 9, 2007

    I live outside of Wendell, and, other than car washes, I have seen ZERO water waste, for months, business or personal, other than the Town employees. No sprinklers, no anything. However, the Town had a project going near the treatment plant, and everything these guys had was leaking water. They should have postponed this project until it rained!

  • TheAdmiral Nov 9, 2007

    Where is John Edwards protecting the poor and the water hoarders when you need him?

  • whatelseisnew Nov 9, 2007

    ma2345

    I agree with you on your posts. Unfortunately, for those of us with some common sense the idiots in control can count on even bigger idiots to vote them in.

  • TheAdmiral Nov 9, 2007

    I think that we need to question the sanity of a water bill.

    After all - there are people who can't afford water because of the tax who are dying of thirst!

  • TheAdmiral Nov 9, 2007

    I think that we need to question the sanity of a water bill. Water is only free if you drink it out of the river? That is nuts.

    It is the whacko thinking to tax water (I don't care if you call it a bill, a tax, or whatever you want to dream up), tax food, and any other necessity - then have the gonuts to say that hunters no longer need to hunt because it is in the meat case.

    You you BAAAAH like a sheep and go with the group Just because? Your part of the problem.

  • TheAdmiral Nov 9, 2007

    ma2345 -

    I think the mudcats have a few to spare - maybe a case.

  • ma2345 Nov 9, 2007

    Oh yeah.....Good thing you didnt hang those ridiculous lights on Fayetteville St. Mall with the continous water fountain.
    That would really be working great now.....IDIOTS run this town...PURE IDIOTS>!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • TheAdmiral Nov 9, 2007

    FriendlyPrimate-

    My urinary bladder is bigger than your well. I bet you I can generate more water than the aquifer under your house.

  • whatelseisnew Nov 9, 2007

    FriendlyPrimate -

    Perhaps you are the type of helpless victim that looks to government to take care of you. I do not and never will. If my well should run dry, I have 2 choices. Hire a driller to go deeper or move. It just amazes me that people will allow the government to rip them off for money and then tell them how to use the commodity that they are charging them for twice. Once in taxes and then the second tax called a water bill. My pump broken 6 years ago, I paid a guy to replace my pump. The pressure switch broke last year. I went to the store, purchased a new switch and replaced it and oddly enough I did not call up someone in government either time. So if you want to be fined for using the water you are paying for, hey congratulations on some intelligent decision-making.

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