Local News

Raleigh May Ban All Outdoor Watering; Tips for Saving Plants

Posted January 21, 2008

— Water restrictions could soon get even tighter in Raleigh. City leaders are considering imposing the toughest water restrictions on record as they watch the water level in Falls Lake.

"The lake level is improving, but the reality is, the lake is about one-third full. We want to have it full at the start of the warm weather season. At current rates, it will not be full," Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said.

If imposed, Stage 2 water restrictions would prohibit all outdoor watering, including watering with a hose or watering can. Homeowners would also be banned from power-washing. Car washes that don't use recycled water could also face restrictions.

The threat of an outdoor watering ban is particularly upsetting to folks who have a lot of money invested in landscaping, but people can take steps to keep plants and trees alive without water.

"Plants that are established in a good, rich, organic soil really don't require nearly as much water as those plants that are haphazardly planted in the clay soil," said Joshua Logan with Logan's Trading Co.

When the soil is topped with a thick layer of mulch, the moisture keeps even better. There also are synthetic solutions that can be added soil.

"It will expand and absorb water up to 50 to maybe 100 times its current volume," Logan said.

Since watering soon may not be an option if Raleigh bans irrigation, folks at Logan's have been capturing rain water.

"These are rain barrels, or rain catchers as some people call them," Logan said.

Logan's sold 10 rain barrels in 2006, but 500 since folks began worrying about the drought.

"A tenth of an inch of rain is generally enough to fill one of these barrels," Logan said.

Some people have forgotten about watering altogether and have bought bulbs instead.

"They've got all their food in their little bulb. It's a great thing to plant, and you don't need to water them," Sarah Mendell said.

Raleigh is also urging its biggest water-users to conserve. N.C. State has installed low-flow devices across campus. A university spokesperson said the institution has saved an estimated 57 million gallons of water since July, mostly due to the low-flow devices.

The Raleigh City Council will get a full report Tuesday night on the steps major water users are taking to conserve.

Cary is also talking about new water restrictions. Tiered water rates and outdoor watering proposals are just two possibilities leaders are considering. Projections estimate Cary's daily water demand could double by the year 2030.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • donc Jan 22, 2008

    All residential and commercial building should cease until we have the infrastructure AND water to handle more growth. Personally there are more Jiffy Lubes and subdivisions around to last me a lifetime. It appears to me that we have the "lunatics running the asylum" We do not have the roads, the school system and now we have found ourselves without enough water to go around. What kind of state and local government have we got and who are they to tell, US, the taxpayers what it is that WE need to be doing!! All "Growth" should be halted until we can get a handle on this whole situation with too many people for too few roads, spending many millions of $$ on gas yearly to cart kids all over Wake Co for schools, wheres the conservation there? And how about waiting to see what 2008 weather is going to be doing so that current residents can bathe and quench their thirst. This all is not rocket science, we just need leaders who are honest and have a little common sense!

  • oldrebel Jan 22, 2008

    NCFF....informative posting. I've always been of the opinion that desalination only works if you're going into the process without a cap on the funds need to initiate and maintain such a plant. The product would far more expensive than lake water and in the end, the high cost would be prohibitive. Otherwise, Virginia Beach would have built such sans the cost of a long pipeline, rather than building their pipeline to Kerr. Economics 101. Cheap water is like cheap gasoline, it stunts conservation efforts and doesn't really seem all that important until the word "cheap" is removed.

  • Foxtrot Delta Tango Jan 22, 2008

    I do now, and have been conserving water as much as possible at work and at home. That said, I'll add that as long as people can pressure wash their home or outdoor furniture (and other such non-essential activities) I refuse to believe there is a serious situation at hand.

  • charlesboyer Jan 22, 2008

    I think that WRAL.com should put up an FAQ about water. We see the same things in these comments over and over again.

    For example:

    Q. Why aren't we digging Falls Lake deeper?
    A. Because it requires funding to do that's not there, because required environmental impact studies have to be completed before any digging could begin.

    Q. Why do we allow golf courses to irrigate?
    A. Because all but one golf course in the Raleigh area have their own water supplies -- retention ponds, wells, etc. They do not use tap water on the fairways.

    Q. Why not just raise Falls Lake?
    A. the proposal might face opposition in towns downstream along the Neuse River, such as Smithfield, Goldsboro and Kinston.

    Keeping Falls Lake fuller would reduce the space reserved for storing stormwater, which is required by law. With more water, the lake's level would be closer to the spillways, increasing the likelihood of floods downstream. Towns like Smithfield and Goldsboro would surely oppose this.

  • Chuck U Farley Jan 22, 2008

    CharlesBoyer -

    I agree with your criticism of reporting drought numbers since 1/1/07. In all previous years, the numbers get reset with the new year. Obviously, that hides the cumlative effects, but how about reporting over the last 365 days?

  • thinkbee Jan 22, 2008

    This is a no brainer - Cary's rates are expected to double by 2030? - STOP BUILDING CARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • BadDayforButch Jan 22, 2008

    Raleigh leaders sit around scratching their heads trying to figure out what to do, it is unbelievable ! Around 1999 or 2000 Cary was in a very similar situation because they didn't have enough water purification capacity for all the new homes being built. They enacted several measures including limited development, tiered pricing etc to conserve water. And then they actually enforced it ! Raleigh needs to look no further than Cary for a plan that will work until Raleigh can somehow increase its water supply. The idea that they can't go to tiered pricing now is laughable. The software is readily available, Cary already has it and it certainly didn't take them very long to transform their system ! New development needs to stop or be really tightened down and tied to water availability. Raleigh...look west and you will find your answers.

  • HadEnough Jan 22, 2008

    Trust me folks. The town council will modify stage 2 restrictions before implementing. Most businesses have lawyers and the city is scared of that fact. A bunch of people banned together and hire a lawyer.

  • enigma1469 Jan 22, 2008

    Does anyone suggesting that Falls Lake be dug deeper have any clue as to how big of a job that it would be. To make move enough dirt to make one days worth of water would take months of labor. Then see how high the water prices go. Use some common sense people.

  • busyb97 Jan 22, 2008

    This story is a bit confusing. They make is sound like we've been allowed to use water outdoors all of this time. Last I checked, you can't, and haven't been able to since at least October when stage 1.5 went into effect. I think the biggest difference with where we are now (stage 1.5) and stage 2 is it will hit businesses more who use water outdoors (landscapers, builders, powerwashing, etc). None of it makes much sense or seems to offer any real solutions- as usual. WRAL just wanted the 'shock factor' for the headline. :)