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Water Conservation Levels Off in Raleigh

Posted December 21, 2007

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— After falling steadily during the fall, water use in Raleigh has leveled off in recent weeks, which could require creativity by city officials to cut consumption even more.

Gov. Mike Easley on Thursday called for Raleigh and 29 other water systems across North Carolina with the lowest supplies of drinking water to cut consumption by 40 percent.

The City Council is expected to discuss next month implementing tiered water rates, which would charge people more for using more than a specified amount of water. Easley said water systems statewide should adopt such "conservation pricing" to encourage people to cut back.

"There's different ways to do it. You could have a surcharge, where after a certain amount you penalize," said Ed Buchan, a water conservation specialist with Raleigh's Department of Public Utilities.

Raleigh officials hope to cut usage from 40 million to no more than 35 million gallons a day, but Buchan said even doubling the price of water might not have an impact on local residents.

"It's just kind of like the price of gas. There really hasn't been a tremendous reduction in people's travel habits. It's more expensive, but people have not stopped driving," he said. "The reality is people pay $120 a month for cable and Internet, and they don't blink at that. Basically, water in the city of Raleigh is $25 (to) $30 a month."

Although officials said the hope people take it upon themselves to conserve water, some residents said they already have cut back plenty.

"I can't wash my car, can't water my lawn. My lawn's dead," resident Chris Schlenker said. "I think it would probably take water rationings from the city and state. ... I've already cut back quiet a bit."

31 Comments

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  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Dec 23, 2007

    The biggest problem that we have is that Raleigh oversold the capacity of the Falls Lake. The problem is not the drought, it's poor water management by the City of Raleigh and Corp of Engineers. None of the other area lakes are as low as the Falls Lake. Jordan, Kerr, and Gaston are all doing fairly well considering the drought.

    I went up I-85 a few weeks ago and passed over Gaston. You can't tell that we're in a drought looking at Gaston.

    I wonder why Raleigh isn't using Wake Forest's old water supply before Raleigh took over Wake Forest's water system. There is a reservoir east of Wake Forest that Wake Forest used to use for it's water supply.

  • skiallyr Dec 23, 2007

    I don't know what you people expect. Our elected officials have formed a task force to study the problem with first reports due in May - 3 months after the lake runs dry. The best part is going to be that once the lake fills back up the study will recommend making the lake deeper to hold more...so they'll have to drain it to dig....but we elected them.

  • blessalah Dec 22, 2007

    raleigh is going to dry up and die

  • nc resident Dec 22, 2007

    a new yankee moves in the neighborhood so I though it was in the best interest of the neighborhood to inform him of the water drought..the house was a ARM foreclosure and sat for a year or better. So far, he has run his well dry twice with leaking pipes, a busted water heater and now the commode has been sitting in the back yard for over 2 weeks. A good plummer would know that the bottom part is not mechanical but he tries to get it to hold 15 gallons but like it's designed, it only holds 2...Keep trying right? Get the picture??

  • nc resident Dec 22, 2007

    Come on in...the water is fine.......

  • ladyblue Dec 22, 2007

    It's nothing wrong with always trying to be positive. But our government again has failed us by allowing too much usage and growth with false hope that it will always be a hurricane here to put us back right. Well it's not happening, so now they want to make the user of everyday use pay for the mistakes of the decision makers. They should never assume that if one year is in the red you should start in the beginning to treat the next year as serious and not keep assuming we'll get that big one to fill our lakes back up. I think this stinks.

  • irishale Dec 22, 2007

    Gas prices only reduce the demand for gas to a point... a minimal amount is needed for work, etc... so until raising the price of gas causes a 'bankruptcy' situation for a household, gas demand will not reduce but so much. Same with water... a minimal amount is needed for a cleanly, civilized living. Some households might already BE at this point.
    The responsibility at this point belongs to the municipalities... in most cases when water lines were run, wells were condemned, creating a situation of reliance that could be argued to be artificially occurring. In that light, the municipality took the responsibility of supplying adequate water for it's subscribers. It's the law of nature, a large concentration of any animal in one area tasks the resources of that area... and since the municipality has taken responsibility for providing this resource, they morally MUST find adequate resources, or STOP, not slow down, growth until they do.

  • Angry Independent Dec 22, 2007

    Tiered water rates should be in place regardless. It's not a silver bullet solution, but its an extremely low cost/low impact way to start making a difference quickly. Every study the city council has seen so far shows that it reduces consumption.

    While tiered rates are in place, they can continue to debate and study other areas for water conservation.

  • nc resident Dec 22, 2007

    try taking a $100 dollar bill, wave it in the air and see if it rains

  • nc resident Dec 22, 2007

    poohperson200

    Are you tied to the city...listen, people will do without food to buy gas to try to make another paycheck only to buy gas again. Water is a natural resource here in NC so cutting the demand should have been done long ago. As I have stated, oyu can't byt Mother Nature. Where is this surcharge money going to go???? Will they give it back when Mother Nature decides to grant us rain? Is robbing peoples pocketbook going to solve a problem that the RICH and Famous have created here? IF they won't conserve, cut the water off after a certain allotment. Fix the 15% waste the goverment says the city can waste.. Let them be the first ones to step up to the plate and others will follow.

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