Local News

State Leaders Discuss Water-Saving Technology

Posted December 14, 2007

— Conserving water is a must during this year's statewide drought, but it will take more than going easy on the taps to avert serious supply problems.

A conference in Raleigh on Friday highlighted the latest  water-conservation technologies and programs.

Experts from around the state shared ideas and ways to work together, from water reclamation and reuse to efficient designs for new buildings and retrofits of existing buildings to the use of drought-tolerant plants.

Water managers said planning ahead is more important than ever, with an estimated 3 million people expected to move to North Carolina during the next few years.

"The strategies that we have to put together now have to start moving to address that at a pace of people that keep moving in. We're still not at a level of sustainability in North Carolina," said Michael Nicklas, president of Innovative Design in Raleigh, which specializes in sustainable architecture.

The meeting came as Raleigh leaders are considering their options. The city has already banned most outdoor watering because of Falls Lake's dwindling water supply.

If the lake's water level drops a bit more, the city will ban outdoor watering and pressure-washing altogether.

Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said the restrictions may not be enough. He said the city may have to go to more severe measures.

"There'll likely be requests on for things like paper plates instead of washing china, limitations on flushing toilets – things we are not used to but we may have to go to," he said.

Meeker said those measures will happen if severe conditions remain and water usage stays the same.

Water worries are not limited to Raleigh.

The Triangle J Council of Governments told local leaders Thursday that water is being wasted through things like leaky pipes. Raleigh is losing more than 3 million gallons a day while Durham is losing an estimated 1.3 million gallons.

"Reservoir levels, even if they come up somewhat over this winter and into the spring, are going to drop even faster next summer than they did this summer," Sydney Miller, Triangle J's water resources manager, said.

Gov. Mike Easley said he called Friday's meeting in hopes that informing communities about water-saving technology will help them come up with long-term solutions. He also called a special meeting of the state Drought Management Advisory Council for next Thursday.

“I have been calling on residents across the state to conserve since the drought began last spring, and we have had some good results,” he said in a statement. “However, the latest data shows that the drought keeps getting worse and that water use has increased. It is essential that everyone cut back to the absolute minimum amount of water they need to take care of their families.”

Wake County Commissioner Kenn Gardner said he appreciated the perspectives offered at Friday's conference.

"We can sit down and share our experiences and technologies that are out there," Gardner said.


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  • Mad Baumer Dec 15, 2007

    ""I have two kids every other weekend, and have a small apartment. I used 100 gallons last week. For one person. Not too bad is that? I shower daily and wash dishes and do laundry. I take a shower and check and only use ten gallons. ANd I take loooong showers. I have a gauge and that's what it says.

    Someone else is squandering the water cause I am not...
    December 14, 2007 11:51 a.m."""

    Take this person off of any lists you people have for water abusers. She has a guage on her shower and she checks. She is innocent.
    Signed, The OJ Jury

  • ruthpauly Dec 15, 2007

    A step in the right direction would be not to water the demolished building downtown for a week straight. Come on folks no water no life! Don't forget to wash all those SUV's...

  • ladyblue Dec 15, 2007

    I'm glad a statewide meeting has been held so ideas can be exchanged for future reference but I think it's a little late for a meeting to help out this year. We should have been considering using reuse water and etc all along knowing that continuous population increases were on the rise for the last several years. That's like waiting for the well to fill back up after going dry by telling folks not to use water. Water is the MOST ESSENTIAL of our basic needs as well as the most important thing to keep us living. What good is those fancy lawns going to do people who are dieing inside of the house because there is no water to drink. Our leaders kept thinking that hurricane would come and replenish our lakes but this hasn't happened this year and no guarantee of anything eventful until the air atmosphere is just right for us to get about a week of steady rain. Sometimes things are put off too late and this is one of those times.

  • Mean Old Mom Dec 14, 2007

    Does anyone know how you can measure the amount of water a household is using? The water bill is not clear on this and now that the water meters are covered with some new device (to keep homeowners from tampering?), you can't really assess your own water usage. I do know that yard watering triples or quadruples usage.

  • Whale Dec 14, 2007

    With respect to this water situation, we're all on the Hindenburg and the realtors and developers want the window seats.

  • Rolling Along Dec 14, 2007

    Before we all jump on the paperplate bandwagon...the paper industry uses massive amounts of water. Might want to find out where those plates are coming from!

  • jgordonfan Dec 14, 2007

    Charles Meeker may have made a good suggestion about limiting how many times you flush a toilet each day, but he obviously did not think about the fact that that would not be able to be done by a person who had a transplant of any kind.

  • Durhamighty Dec 14, 2007

    Yea!! Great advice from Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker that he said: "There'll likely be requests on for things like paper plates instead of washing china, limitations on flushing toilets – things we are not used to but we may have to go to."
    Southern California has had a major drought for years and the mayor of Los Angeles most certainly must have dispensed the same advice as Meeker....?!?! NO! they have their water provided to them through several man made aqueducts.
    I agree with "Awake in Wake" growth in Wake Cty (as well as all of NC)means Raleigh and other city municipalities need to start thinking of new ways of supplying additional water supply for new growth in these drought times...instead of just having conservation measures and NOTHING ELSE!

  • Capt Mercury Dec 14, 2007

    Bravo "Awake in Wake". The unrestrained growth here has been a big money grab, with none of the money going towards schools, roads, and (now we realize) water supplies. I remember a time when a developer had an incentive to build roads and schools to support the housing developments they were selling. The properties wouldn't sell unless you could get to them. Now we have taxpayers being squeezed to build roads that should have been built before the houses and malls. And don't even get me started on the NC Turnpike Authority!!!

    Given our leaders lack of backbone, all I can say about the upcoming water shortage is "If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down."

  • Awake in Wake Dec 14, 2007

    Maybe they should rename Falls Lake and call it Dry Gulch instead. Then they can place a historical marker as a tribute to the greed and poor planning that lead to its demise. The politicians are now waking up to the fact that 3 million more people are planning to move to North Carolina. They should show that they have a backbone and stand up against the realtors and builders and stop issuing building permits. Of course, we could have had transfer taxes and realistic impact fees to help pay for new water sources if it were not for the realtors and builders who keep trying to mislead the public to vote against these sources of revenue. Eventually, we will all pay higher property taxes if we do not get the newcomers to help pay for the infrastructure that they require. After all these new investments help the newcomers. There was a sufficient amount of water before the huge population inflow to Wake County.