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Raleigh Preps for Stricter Water Rules

Posted December 4, 2007

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— City officials are preparing for the potential of moving to tighter water restrictions in the coming weeks – rules that could adversely affect some local businesses.

The City Council on Tuesday voted to give City Manager Russell Allen the authority to move to Stage 2 water restrictions if the city's water supply drops to 90 days.

The move is needed because Falls Lake, the city's primary reservoir, has about 101 days of drinking water left, and the council won't meet again January. Water levels in the lake reached a record low on Nov. 20 – breaking a 14-year-old record – and the levels have continued to fall to new records almost daily since then.

"This drought is off the charts," said Dale Crisp, Raleigh's public utilities director.

Stage 2 restrictions would eliminate all outdoor watering, including the use of hand-held hoses, ban power-washing and limit the types of car washes that could operate.

"It will affect car washes that are not certified for recycling. It will affect power-washing of houses (and) affect flushing of any lines of subdivisions," Mayor Charles Meeker said. "So, it does start to affect employment in some areas, which we've tried to avoid."

Nineteen car washes have been certified by the city as using recycled water.

The city adopted "Stage 1.5" restrictions in October to cut water consumption by focusing mainly on residential limits while allowing businesses the option of conserving water voluntarily. Officials also recently started pumping water from Lake Benson into the Neuse River to decrease the amount of water released from Falls Lake into the river for downstream communities.

"This is a very serious situation, and that's why the council is being asked to take the next step," Meeker said.

Restaurants also would be prohibited from serving water to diners unless asked under Stage 2 restrictions, and hotel guests staying more than one night would be asked to reuse towels to cut down on laundering.

The new rules also would come with tougher penalties for violations. During the first two weeks after Stage 2 regulations are in place, violations would bring $250 fines, but the fines jump to $1,000 after the two-week grace period.

The move to Stage 2 restrictions also apply to water customers in Garner, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Knightdale, Wendell and Zebulon, which get their water from Raleigh. Public utilities officials said the move could save an average of 1 million to 2 million gallons a day overall.

Raleigh has no tighter restrictions beyond Stage 2, but Meeker said the city is making plans for further conservation efforts if the water supply continues to dwindle.

"I won't say much about toilets, but infrequent flushing is preferred," he said. "Those who are thinking about paper plates are fun as opposed to china, paper plates are fun, and now it's time to be thinking about that. Let's go ahead and do everything we can."

71 Comments

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  • babyluv Dec 5, 2007

    infrequent flushing is preferred...........Please don't kid yourself...who wants to wait til 3bathroom visits later to flush...gross. Well then we can have a reality show North Carolinas Next Top BActeria carrier!

  • Lookelou Dec 4, 2007

    Yep they have to cover for another water main break in the other story, http://www.wral.com/news/news_briefs/story/2122961/.
    Did you notice in that story they didn't mention how much water they lost in that one?

  • Steve Crisp Dec 4, 2007

    See blog at http://www.wral.com/golo/blogpost/2125939/

  • Cougar82 Dec 4, 2007

    I think that we should have gone straight to Stage 2 rather than 1.5. I understand that the City Leaders were thinking about the small businesses, but reality is ---- IS IT MORE IMPORTANT TO POWER WASH, FILL SWIMMING POOLS, HAVE GREEN GRASS, or HAVE WATER TO BATH, DRINK, ETC? It doesn't take an Engineer to figure this one out! City Leaders failed in stepping up to the plate! Go to Stage 2 NOW---- The Fairy God Mother nor Santa Claus will be bringing us 8" of water to fill the lake back up! Those of you with irrigation meters that think it's more important to have green grass than to take a bath.... I hope I don't sit next to you in a restaurant!

  • ArkAngels Dec 4, 2007

    "I think the photo of Falls Lake should be posted al over the city. I truly did not think the situation was that BAD. Seeing is believing."

    HongKongPhooey, where have you been? They have been showing live video feed on WRAL for quite awhile of how bad the lake is. I for one have posted on here several times, as far back as this summer, that people needed to take a drive out to Falls Lake and take a look for themselves. Highway 98 has the best view.

    Those of us that live north of there have been watching this lake dry up for about a year and have been wondering what Raleigh is going to do when it is gone and why they have waited so long to do something about it.

    Let's see... go to stage 2 restrictions in 90 days and there is 101 days of water left... you all do the math on that one. I for one would not want to be drinking any water out of that lake in 60 days, let alone 90.

  • V Rod Dec 4, 2007

    djofraleigh

    you and I are on the same page...Yes we are in a drought, but not one of enormous or unheard of proportions. We need to slow the growth in Raleigh and make attempts to funnel that growth into areas that have adequate supply. By the way people......not everyone in this state is on water restrictions.....just the areas that have exceeded their capacity to deal with less than ideal situations.

  • Wake1 Dec 4, 2007

    Please don't stop building all those wonderful, big subdivisions! We need more homes hooked up to help drain Falls Lake!

  • Haygrower Dec 4, 2007

    Everybody needs to read """ djofraleigh"""page 1 dec 4 he tells it like it is and Amen to the statement that our officials are catering to the developers-bankers-builders-they could care less about our farms -wildlife-rds-schools -etc they are only concerned with getting their pockets lined--it's called broken government at the local level--city council-county commissioners""djofraleigh""comments should be read on the 6:00 o"clock news everyday--thats part of the problem the media will not pick up on this--like this,the more people that come into the area the more business,and better ratings-they could really help to slow the growth and pre-serve some beautiful country--once its concrete it's gone--what a shame--those officials that are always yelling about caring for the future of our kids-LIARS--it's all about them now not the future

  • whatelseisnew Dec 4, 2007

    Yes I really do not understand why there is not a moratorium on new building permits. That would help with more than just the water issue, it would also allow the city and county to catch up on some of the infrastructure needs. But greed drives all, follow the money.

  • djofraleigh Dec 4, 2007

    If this same weather were occurring in 1990, we would not be worried about running out of water. The increased population and the City of Raleigh supplying water to developments across Wake County and into other counties has caused this problem as much as the weather, and you can't fault the weather.

    You can fault the politicians who, even as they cry CONSERVE, continue to sign building permits, water and sewer hook-ups so much people can come use MORE WATER. Does it make sense to add to the draw at the same time they you beg for conservation so you don't run out? NO! You can fault politician's poor planning and their catering to the bankers, builders and realtors.

    Is your IDEAL village a place of increased polluted air to breathe, crowded schools, overwhelmed courts, crowded jails, crowded ERs, crowded highways, crowded out wildlife, strained power plants, too little water supply, polluted rivers and streams, a loss of good farm land to roads, houses and strip malls? You got it

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