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Panel Calls for Tougher Water Rules Next Month

Posted January 30, 2008
Updated January 31, 2008

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— Raleigh should impose tougher water restrictions by Feb. 28 at the latest, and new water customers could be charged an extra fee to pay for conservation, a City Council committee decided Wednesday.

The moves were among a series of suggestions put forward by Councilman Thomas Crowder as the council's Public Works Committee discussed ways to use treated wastewater to conserve the dwindling supply of drinking water in Falls Lake, the city's primary reservoir. The lake had at least 109 days of available water as of Wednesday.

Crowder, who isn't on the committee and appeared to speak to its members, also called for mandating that municipal workers use treated wastewater for as many outdoor uses as possible, requiring developers to capture the water used to flush water lines at new homes and reviving the city's Water Conservation Task Force.

After Crowder urged setting a firm date for enacting Stage 2 water restrictions, the committee voted to set a Feb. 28 deadline. The tougher rules would ban all outdoor watering and pressure washing and require car washes to recycle their water.

The full council is expected to discuss the move next week.

Mayor Charles Meeker plans to meet Friday with officials from the six  Wake County towns that purchase water from Raleigh, and officials have said the Stage 2 restrictions could be adopted as early as next week.

To help the city recoup money it loses as residents use less water, Crowder suggested increasing the connection fee for new water customers until drought conditions ease. He didn't specify what he thinks the fee should be, however.

The committee referred the idea to city staff members for more study.

Meeker recently backed off a call for a 50 percent surcharge on water rates for all users to help encourage conservation. The idea met with stiff public opposition.

The Stage 2 rules also would prevent developers from flushing new water lines to test for bacteria, a required step before a new home is granted a Certificate of Occupancy.

The Home Builders Association of Raleigh-Wake County on Monday suggested that developers would be willing to pick up the cost of capturing the drinking water used to flush lines and hauling it back to Falls Lake or the city's water treatment plant.

Raleigh should require developers to do that, Crowder said, although he didn't suggest any penalty for builders who fail to capture the water.

City staff members will look into a possible exemption from the Stage 2 rules for developers who capture used water. They also will report on Crowder's plan for city workers to use treated wastewater for irrigation, street sweeping, de-icing roads and other outdoor functions.

"We're still using city drinking water to fill up de-icing trucks, and it doesn't make any sense in the time of an extreme drought," said Councilman Russ Stephenson, a committee member. "The idea is to create a market for this alternative water source."

Raleigh engineers have been designing a 17-mile pipeline that would pump some treated wastewater through the city for major water customers. The City Council and state environmental regulators would have to approve the $21 million plan before it could be put in place.

If approved, the new pumping system could open in December 2009, and some residents could hook up to the system.

The committee also approved Crowder's call for the city's Water Conservation Task Force to begin meeting again to devise long-term strategies for dealing with Raleigh's water needs. Some issues to be addressed are developing Stage 3 restrictions and creating a system of conservation credits.


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  • Beachnut Jan 31, 2008

    Raleigh is adding over 400 new users to the water system every single month. Do they really expect us to pay attention to their silly stage whatever restrictions and rules? It's a complete joke!

  • Steve Crisp Jan 30, 2008

    Now, isn't that precious. Meeker send out his little pet Crowder to bark for him. Fortunately, we see through both of them. They are less concerned about water supplies and have far more interest in revenue stream. Because without those sources of cash, what are they going to waste on unneeded projects?

  • whatelseisnew Jan 30, 2008

    Meeker and company seem to always be looking for another way to suck money from everyones pockets. Wonder what they will do when they have 100% of your money and the lake is still draining.

  • shine Jan 30, 2008

    When are they going to quit beating this dead horse? I has been a problem for six months plus. I wish these ego elected would walk around their house - forget the lawn and shrubbery - and think about how that house functions without water...

    Go look at your coffe maker, ice maker, stove, sink, refrigerator, everytime you think someone needs to mop your floor, brushing your teeth, taking a shower, washing your clothes, the toilet, and lets do forget having something to drink. It is time to do something and quit saying we are gonna look at it every other week... or next week or next month. When you run out you are our - simple - I guess the powers to be have never been without....

  • harbourwoman Jan 30, 2008

    I live in the city. I don't water my lawn. I barely water my houseplants (that are few) I wash my car 4 times a year. My home was pressured washed once in 12 years. I do shower daily but now only run 3 loads of laundry about every three weeks - with a front-loading machine. How much more do I cut back?

    First of all, yeah- probably the pretty yards have to brown up a bit. Secondly, though, if I am using less water, and you just upped my property taxes by 30% and there is supposedly an impending recession, do you think that an increase in city utility costs will encourage me to remain here? It's tough. And then people start exiting and propery values fall.. what happens then?

    I'm all for good infrastrucuture; however I'm also for not pricing me - the homeowner - out of my home.

    Just something to ponder.

  • foetine Jan 30, 2008

    Nice to know that Mayor Meeker wants to punish us for cutting back on our water. Why don't they just charge us a flat fee if that's the issue. I don't like having to pay for that rain water runoff surcharge when it's a month that had zero rainfall. Meeker needs to quit using his office shower to save on his home usage. he's bending his numbers.

  • NCFF Jan 30, 2008

    See link for a story on NPR last week about a project in Orange County (CA not NC) to use highly treated effluent for groundwater recharge...


    I believe we will see more and more of this as conventional water supply infrastructure (i.e., lakes and reservoirs) become more costly to build, difficult to locate -- and existing conventional infrastruture approaches it's sustainable capacity.

  • enigma1469 Jan 30, 2008

    I live in the county and do not water my yard and its as green as most. The key is not watering makes the grass grow better roots. I will come and relieve any excess water I have on your yards for free.

  • anonemoose Jan 30, 2008

    Real Deal, now it would be a brown yard....

  • Space Mountain Jan 30, 2008

    Is having a green yard really that important?