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Tougher Water Rules Drying Up Some Green Businesses

Posted January 22, 2008
Updated January 23, 2008

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— Restrictions for Raleigh water customers could soon get tougher. The city wants residents to reduce daily water usage to 35 gallons or less.

Falls Lake, Raleigh's main water source, is about 10 billion gallons below normal.

Next week, Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker plans to meet with six other Wake County mayors to discuss the drought and tougher restrictions, including a ban on hand watering. That is in addition to the current rules that prevent all outdoor irrigation.

The mayors are from the towns that get water from the Raleigh system.

Michael Hoskins with Groundscapes of NC said the drought and water restrictions have dried up much of his landscaping and irrigation-system business. He has laid off half of his workers.

"It shut us down. Planting, sod installation – we do not get any calls for that whatsoever. The only thing we're getting calls for is the outdoor living spaces, outdoor kitchens, fireplaces, patios. That's what has kept our head above water right now," Hoskins said.

The same thing has happened to a group of 300 or so "Green Industry" professionals who depend on water and irrigation to make a living. They held a meeting Tuesday night to make sure mayors, city council members and state lawmakers know just how much the drought is hurting their livelihood.

"You're not going to solve that issue just by banning irrigation. You're not going to solve it by stopping landscaping practices. You're going to solve it by changing the entire mindset of a community," said Kurt Bland with Bland Landscaping.

However, irrigation "represents about 30 to 35 percent of the demand in the warmer months, and there's no getting around that," said Ed Buchan, a water specialist with the city Public Utilities Department.

The North Carolina Green Industry Council said the drought is costing its members $8.6 billion.

"When somebody gets laid off in my profession, it's just as important as if they got laid off in a manufacturing job," Bland said.

The group's message to leaders was to give them a 30-day variance on the irrigation ban to establish new plantings and to allow citizens to water twice a week to maintain what they have already planted.


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  • independent-opinion Jan 23, 2008

    wakecoparent, No one is suggesting that you go without drinking water in order to keep an azalea alive. They are suggesting that if some water resources are shifted, not from home use but from industrial use, than the restrictions would effect all industry and not single out just the landscapers.

    Yes, they chose the profession but does that mean they are any less entitled to public resources that we all pay for? Or is it because they have dirt on their hands at the end of the day instead of wearing a lab coat or work in a "clean" room all day. BTW the labcoat guys at Bayer (another water user) make many of the products the green industry uses. When the landscapers are gone where will they be.

    As for the livestock, at the rate of growth in this county you will soon be inside city limits and will not be allowed any.

  • WFrules Jan 23, 2008

    justjean: It's true. You're just as guilty as I am. Wake County is taking your dollars and not applying them in the right areas. Look at the DOT. They're just as bad. They build more than the roads can handle.

  • wakecoparent Jan 23, 2008

    I'm glad that we are on a well where I live and don't have to worry about only using a certain number of gallons a day. However here on the farm we still try to conserve water as much as possible!

    If our water runs out we are hosed at least those of you on city water don't have to worry about it - you run out of water and the government will make sure you have some.

    One question : What about people with animals? Not your regular pet like cats and dogs but those with Horses and such, how are they making it? I know where we used to live a long time ago we had a small farm but were on city water I can't imagine trying to keep our 200 gallon water trough filled on city water now!

  • wakecoparent Jan 23, 2008

    I agree that there are many Wake county businesses that are not concerned with water conservation.

    Last night I was at the cheap movie theater on Blue Ridge and in the womens bathroom there was a faucet on full tilt. The lady in front of me went out of the bathroom and I saw her stop a manager and tell him, his response??? "Yeah we know we have fixed it 2 times and it just keeps breaking so we just let it run" what a moron!!! Why not either pay to have it fixed properly or gee here's an idea Disable it so it can't work.

    I'm sorry that the landscapers are having such trouble but you know they are the ones who chose that profession. No one should be exempt from the water restrictions for any reason. If they need water so badly in order to stay in business then I suggest they pay to have water trucked in. It's is insane to think that people should have to go without drinking water just so that they can plant some shrubs/grass/trees etc. .

  • justjean Jan 23, 2008

    WFrules, don't pay attention to justjean. This person is crazy. How dare you? You don't even know me and you get on this board and start insulting people. As for THE MAIN POINT HERE IS WE'VE OUTGROWN OUR WATER RESOURCE AND HAVE TOO MANY PEOPLE LIVING HERE NOW, PERIOD. Why don't you step up and move.

  • WFrules Jan 23, 2008

    Wake county is not as serious about conserving water as they could be so why should we...? They could close down car washes that don't recycle and do more with businesses. They don't want to. I still see fountains running across Wake county and older car washes open that don't recycle and people use them... Wake county needs serious leaders that understand how to deal with this and stop sleeping on it. Meeker has not lead by example as WRAL pointed out a few weeks ago when he dreamed about the 25gal/per/person and 50% rate increase. He's not doing it, so why should we? THE MAIN POINT HERE IS WE'VE OUTGROWN OUR WATER RESOURCE AND HAVE TOO MANY PEOPLE LIVING HERE NOW, PERIOD. So why should we all suffer? Why is Wake County not doing anything about it? They're just sucking up our money and not putting it back into another water resource? Good job Wake leaders.... I give you all an F in this area and many others.

  • WFrules Jan 23, 2008

    justjean: This person could argue even if they were the only one out here...

  • independent-opinion Jan 23, 2008

    justjean - no joke

    There was a good article in the N&O (www.newsobserver.com/weather/drought/story/748696.html)
    I was wrong on GSK's usage, they are about 1/2 million gallons/day but they have done a lot to conserve - all other businesses should be required to follow their lead and take the same steps. The problems should not be placed at the feet of any one industry or business but all alike.

  • TontoKozlowski Jan 23, 2008

    Hello NCFF- Nice points but aren't you actually verifying what I stated? The reason that Falls is so low is not necessarily drought related, it's population related and when it was designed, it was for X amount of people not X multiplied by 5? Jordan lake serves he Cary area primarily, which has also seen significant growth is not nearly in the shape of Falls, either by proper planning in the beginning stages years ago or by simple luck! Either way it illustrates my point that the lack of water in Falls is not "drought" related it's growth related, and all the rain in the world will not make the problem go away. It obviously will hide it, but unless changes are made it will always be an underlying issue!

  • tarheel22 Jan 23, 2008

    This is a no-brainer for me. Why does ANYONE need to water a lawn in a DROUGHT. This makes no sense to me. You would rather waste water on your lush green grass rather than drinking it or taking a shower. How stupid and ignorant.
    I think there should be a $1,000,000.00 fine for watering a lawn. If you take some lush green money from these idiots that might get their attention. I know there are other ways we waste water, but this one is the most ridiculous to me.