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No Water Could Mean No New Homes in Raleigh

Posted December 10, 2007
Updated December 11, 2007

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— The city could implement strict water restrictions as early as next week that not only will limit how much water residents and businesses consume but also might turn off the spigot on new housing developments.

Falls Lake, the city's primary reservoir, has about 98 days of drinking water left, and City Manager Russell Allen has been empowered to enact Stage 2 water restrictions once the water supply falls below 90 days.

The Stage 2 rules would ban outdoor watering and pressure-washing, allow only car washes that have been certified as using recycled water to operate and require hotels and restaurants to encourage customers to cut down on water consumption.

The rules could also slow down development. Developers who get permits to build water lines after Stage 2 begins would have to wait until Stage 2 restrictions end to get their water lines flushed to test for bacteria. Flushing the lines is a required step for homes and buildings to get their Certificate of Occupancy. The flushes can consume 10,000 to 15,000 gallons of water per development.

Developers that get permits to build water lines after Stage 2 restrictions begin might hit a roadblock, said Tim Minton, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Raleigh-Wake County.

"It would basically put new subdivisions on hold," Minton said. "That's our concern – what is the long-term effect? Where are we going to be three to six months from now?"

City officials said they hope Stage 2 restrictions won't have significant impacts.

Subdivisions that already have permits will move forward, and their water lines will be flushed, said Ed Buchan, a water conservation specialist with Raleigh's Department of Public Utilities. Developers without permits can still build the water lines and wait until Stage 2 ends to continue, he said.

"Obviously, everyone is concerned now. This is the most severe restrictions to be in," Buchan said.

Construction delays caused by the tougher water restrictions could adversely impact a housing market already slowed by the nationwide mortgage crisis, Minton said.

"It's probably the most important issue we're facing today, and the best thing we can do is pray for rain," he said.

The housing market generates about $4 billion a year for Wake County's economy, Minton said. Mike Walden, an economist at North Carolina State University, said the real estate industry accounts for about 12 percent of the regional economy.


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  • Trivr Dec 12, 2007

    TarheelsDontLikeEdwards - I think you've summed it up beautifully! "I don't think anybody wants to freeze job growth, so it looks like we'll be dealing with more sprawl and growth."

    I can't believe so few people view the growth issue from this perspective. It's supply and demand! The builders are only responding to the demand for housing in this area. If there's no new houses, people will continue to move here due to job growth and quality of life, which will then result in housing costs going very high.

  • ncwebguy Dec 12, 2007

    *Unchecked* growth will stop, but growth in and of itself could continue if it pays for itself.

    You can, in fact, build houses on top of houses. They're called condos and apartments. They don't require the 15,000 gallon system flushes new subdivision need for water quality tests. If builders recaptured that water, then it wouldn't be an issue.

    When water resivour capacity meets current (to say nothing of future) needs, then the HBA can go back to building like there's no tommorow again.

    When developers can't build ad nasueum any more, they might consider paying for their impact, instead of demanding everyone else pay their way.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Dec 11, 2007

    Dominion, you are either growing or you are compacting. There is no such thing as no growth and no compaction.

    Same thing for businesses, you are either growing or you're on your way out of business.

    Communities that are stagnant eventually wither away.

  • ObamaMustGo aka NCcarguy Dec 11, 2007

    So Dominion.....What are we going to do to replace the "HUGE CHUNK" of the economy that is lost if development stops? Grow Tobacco? Grow Corn? textiles? tell me? What does ANY area do that development has stopped? they start to die. Look at what happened to Houston a few years back. THAT'S my problem! People like you that think you've got your spot, so you don't want anyone else to move into the area, and it will be a perfect world....it's just not that simple!

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Dec 11, 2007

    Until we freeze job growth in the RTP area, we will need to build homes to house all of the people taking these high paying jobs.

    I don't think anybody wants to freeze job growth, so it looks like we'll be dealing with more sprawl and growth.

  • Dominion Dec 11, 2007

    To NCcarguy - The huge chunk of the area's economy does come from development...but that's a RIDICULOUS area to put so much stock into. Growth has to stop at some point! You can't just build houses on top of houses! We should try and find better sources of income for the area rather than just complaining about development being haulted. And most of the people make a good point, so I don't know what you're problem is. More money in the area won't be worth squat if we have to water to drink!

  • Why Is My Slim Physique Envied Dec 11, 2007

    Well Its About Time! Im Sick Of All Of These New Homes, The School System Is Overcrowded Enough!

  • wtliftr Dec 11, 2007

    Sorry, but WF, Rolesville, and Garner HAVE NO CHOICE but be in the same system- they are ALL part of the Neuse River system. All the streams, creeks, groundwater, and the river are ALL interconnected...

  • TheWB Dec 11, 2007

    How would you write the movie script for this disaster film?"

    OK, I'll play. First we noticed the water tasting different, it tasted slightly metallic, not bitter but seemed to have a vapor to it. That was from treatment plants adding extra chlorination to try to keep the water in acceptable parameters for potabilty. Next the water wasn't exactly clear any more, then shortly after that we had to boil it, finally the intakes at our resevoirs failed and the water was turned off. There was a declaration first by the Governor followed by the President for a national disaster relief plan. Then we were all put on a schedule to meet National Guard water tankers at pre-arranged spots to fill our jugs to take back home for sponge baths and to cook with. Then it got worse. . . .

  • Joshua Dec 11, 2007

    *mandated, and way *TOO little