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Easley: Be 'Patriotic,' Conserve Water

Posted December 20, 2007

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— Saying it was everyone's "patriotic duty" to conserve water in the face of the worst drought in North Carolina history, Gov. Mike Easley on Thursday called for water systems statewide to implement tiered water pricing for excessive water use.

Speaking at an emergency meeting of the state Drought Management Advisory Council, Easley said conservation efforts slacked off in November after consumers made a concerted effort in September and October to reduce consumption. Water use was down 30 percent in the first two months and slipped to 26.8 percent in November.

"This is really a manageable problem. It's not that difficult if everyone chips in," he said. "We have to get back to that 30 percent reduction."

Systems with the lowest remaining supplies of drinking water, including Raleigh and Durham, should try to cut their consumption by 40 percent, he said.

Eighty-seven of the state's 100 counties are experiencing exceptional or extreme drought conditions, the two worst categories monitored by the state drought council. Heavy rains last weekend didn't improve conditions in any county.

Easley outlined a few steps to continue pushing water conservation, including asking all water systems to adopt pricing structures that would charge people more for using excessive amounts of water.

"The price of that additional water should cost significantly more than the minimum amount that people need to get by," he said. "I hope people will understand that they have to conserve, and the water bill will certainly be one more reminder that it has to be done."

A Jan. 14 meeting has been scheduled for Greensboro for 30 water systems in the direst straits, including Raleigh and Durham, he said. Officials with the state Department of Crime Control and Public Safety and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources will talk with system managers about connecting to other water sources, plugging leaks in their systems that cost millions of gallons a day and putting emergency plans in place.

Emergency measures like water shut-offs need to be handled at the local level, the governor said, calling statewide emergency powers impractical in this situation. Shutting down entire water systems for using too much water could endanger lives and property and would consume a tremendous amount of water to flush the pipes when the system was turned back on, he said.

Durham has about a month and a half of premium water left. Crews started pumping water from the Teer Quarry this week to extend the water supply by about a month.

Falls Lake in Raleigh is drying up at a rapid rate. City officials are considering buying water from Cary and treating the sediment in the lake to use for home consumption.

Easley said he's satisfied with the response of local officials to the drought, but he said more can be done to ensure the drought doesn't start to drag down the state economy.

"If we as citizens don't conserve, we jeopardize industry being able to continue, which jeopardizes jobs, and that hurts families," he said, calling on parents to tell children of sacrifices made by previous generations of Americans.

State leaders met last week to discuss water reclamation and reuse, water-efficient designs and drought-tolerant plants in an effort to improve water management.

"We're going to be judged as a state nationally and internationally ... on how well we manage this problem," he said.

202 Comments

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  • Obscurite Dec 22, 2007

    lizard---you may want to read a little bit more of your bible before you speak again...here, I'll start you off with Col. 3:12, Eph. 4:32 and 1 Peter 3:8. These texts all teach us to be compassionate toward one another.

    I guess conservatives only hold the moral high ground on certain issues (e.g. homosexuality and pro-life issues---something they can hang their morally superior hats on) but when it comes to just being compassionate for those less fortunate then themselves...where's the love then? Is this straining on a gnat but swallowing a camel? There is a very interesting parable about the separating of the goats and sheep. Suggested reading, lizard.

    Again, just sayin'...

    (c:

  • lizard Dec 21, 2007

    "Compassion for the downtrodden" is not in the Bible. Unless you're talking about the free gift of salvation. It's for everyone but you have to accept it first. Then you'll have a new perspective and see what you left behind was morally inferior.

  • gpd Dec 21, 2007

    I asked Aqua that very question and they told me that since they're not located in NC they rely on the State Governments to keep them abreast of the individual water issues as a whole. Makes sense to me... My question was, "why haven't they contacted you?" They had no idea. I did send the link to this article to the customer service supervisor that I spoke with. She couldn't believe the numbers being printed here. They honestly had no idea. Think about it, how are they supposed to know to add additional charges for users that go over a "limit" if the State hasn't told them about the restrictions?

  • Garnerwolf1 Dec 21, 2007

    Since Aqua America is a for-profit business that sells water in NC, don't you think it's their job to know there was a severe drought in NC? Why should the state contact them specifically?

  • Jack Bauer Dec 21, 2007

    Be Patriotic: conserve water but don't worry about the illegal aliens I wan't to educate in NC

  • gpd Dec 21, 2007

    I just spoke with Aqua America and they haven't heard a word about the drought from the State of North Carolina. They knew that we'd been under moderate (their word) drought restrictions, but they know NOTHING of the severity that's being talked about in this article.

    So, Mr. Easley...who needs to be doing something about this drought?

  • JimP Dec 21, 2007

    @nbforrest - last time I read a history book - I seem to recall something about early settlers asking Native Americans for help?? Thanksgiving anyone?

  • haggis basher Dec 21, 2007

    My 2c worth....for what its worth

    No new hookups. (lots of the illegals will go elsewhere when the building work stops so thats an added bonus)
    No tiered water rates, you already pay more if you use more
    No praying for rain, that just childish
    No more waiting to build the new reservoir

    whos laughing at Cary now? I better get a gun for when hoardes of the smelly unwashed flood over I40!

  • veyor Dec 21, 2007

    The people's job: conserve water. The governemnt's job: provide water. We're doing our part.

  • Obscurite Dec 21, 2007

    oops...meant "religious right"

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