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Raleigh Leaders Plan to Tighten Water Restrictions

Posted February 1, 2008

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— Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker announced Friday that he will ask the City Council to vote next Tuesday to implement tougher water-use restrictions affecting residents, businesses and builders from Feb. 15.

Mayors from six towns that purchase water from Raleigh's system indicated at a meeting late Friday afternoon that they supported Meeker's plans.

"I think it's time we get very serious about this problem," Wendell Mayor Howard Broadwell said. "And if anything, I sometimes worry that maybe we've waited a little late to start from Stage 2."

Stage 2 restrictions would automatically come into effect if Raleigh's water supply dipped to 90 days, but with the supply in Falls Lake predicted to last until mid May, Meeker said he decided to push for  tighter restrictions sooner.

“The bottom line: We are going to have to look at water differently,” Meeker said. "One can certainly look back and say we should have done this a month, or two or three or four ago, and you may be right; you may not be. But I think it's time to do it now regardless."

Stage 2 restrictions would ban all pressure-washing and outdoor watering by hand or irrigation systems. Raleigh water customers in Garner, Wake Forest, Rolesville, Knightdale, Wendell and Zebulon would have to comply along with city residents and businesses.

The restrictions would impact businesses from landscapers to swimming pool operators. Car washes would be closed if they could not meet city standards for recycling water.

Home building, however, might be the industry most affected, as tightened water restrictions would prevent developers from flushing new water lines to test them. An advisory committee recommended making an exception for builders that capture the water and put it back into use.

Broadwell said he supported the restrictions on builders, although his town in eastern Wake County is growing fast.

"Obviously, it's going to slow down some of the construction ... but it's a necessary evil," Broadwell said.

Meeker pushed for the changes, even while acknowledging the economic cost might prove to be unpopular.

"This is not only going to inconvenience some people; it's going to affect them economically," Meeker said, and then warned the other mayors, "And I think we have to be aware of that, and you're going to get some push-back."

Meeker said he would like Raleigh to order all builders of new homes to phase out the use of drinking water for irrigation.

“I think we need to do it, not just in Raleigh but in all the municipalities who are on Raleigh’s system,” he said.

Such a measure, though, could lead to more inefficient use of water, argued Tim Minton, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Raleigh-Wake County.

“The problem is going to be, is basically, you’re going to have homeowners going out and watering their grass with hoses, which is not an efficient use of the water system,” Minton said.

Stage 2 restrictions would also:

  • require that leaks be repaired within 24 hours of notice from the city
  • ban use of water-cooled air conditioners that do not recycle water
  • order businesses to review their water usage and implement conservation plans appropriate for their industry
  • require that innkeepers ask guests to use their towels and linens more than once before laundering
  • prohibit restaurants from serving water, except by request
  • ban all non-essential use of water for commercial or public use

The seven mayors discussed formulating Stage 3 restrictions to be implemented if the drought conditions do not improve.

January 2008 got only 25 percent of normal rainfall for the month, making it the fourth-driest January on record at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, WRAL meteorologists said.


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  • Kilroy Feb 4, 2008

    "Why can't a homeowner in Raleigh have a well? MONEY!! Raleigh restricts us from having a well yet cannot provide the water we need."

    Actually I think you can have a well in Raleigh. I seem to remember someone asking that question during one of Meeker's drought interviews and he replied "yes".

  • VT1994Hokie Feb 1, 2008

    I find it hard to believe that familites use 35 gallons of water each day. Do they wash clothes everyday? How long are your showers? How many times do you flush the commodes? How many are watering their lawns after dark? If I thought that I had only a little over 100 days of water--I would do a gut check.

  • The Fox Feb 1, 2008

    I'm out here in east Wake. I don't remember voting for King Charles. The local mayors will realize later that they just abdicated their power to him- in all things.

  • getrealpeople Feb 1, 2008

    The other towns don't use that much and the GG Hill water plant in wake forest is still running and supplies about 1 million.
    Cary didnt plan Jordan Lake. Cary use to buy water from Raleigh until the recent Cary/apex plant. Cary only uses about 10 MGD which is why Jordan is in better shape not their strategic planning. Cary water rates are high too! Sure the other towns would not have been able to grow without extra raleigh water.
    The Benton plant will open 2010 and pull water from Benson & Lake Wheeler. They are building it now. The little river water supply has been planned and most likely being permitted. Takes years.
    The COE releases 55cfs (usgs website) or about 35 million gallons a day for water quality and downstream users, goldsboro etc.
    Falls lake is up to 242.97 and rising up from 242.82 after today's rain. This area is in drought. We received 2 inches less for January 2008. There is no simple solution. Drink beer!

  • moreupset Feb 1, 2008

    What happened to the good old wells? People who have them know they need to conserve during drought. Why can't a homeowner in Raleigh have a well? MONEY!! Raleigh restricts us from having a well yet cannot provide the water we need.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Feb 1, 2008

    The WRAL drought gauge on WRAL's home page appears to be inaccurate or rigged.

    Based on this drought gauge the rain deficit is going up daily. For this to be true we would have had to have had rain every day in 2007 that we haven't had rain in 2008 because the deficit goes up everyday.

    Even on days that it rains the decrease in the deficit doesn't equal my rain gauge or anybody else's rain guage. We can get 1 inch of rain and the deficit moves a small fraction of an inch.

    The weather records don't substantiate the drought monitor and the deficit numbers based on the actual rain amounts in 2007 and 2008 available from the National Weather Service.

    As they say, figures don't lie. But liars sure do figure.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Feb 1, 2008

    We are not in a drought. Our water problem with Falls lake is because the city has oversold the capacity along with the Corp of Engineers letting too much water out of Falls lake last spring after heavy rains.

    If we were in a drought, Jordan, Kerr, and Gaston lakes would also be down. Those three lakes are at or near capacity.

    If we were really in an exceptional/extreme drought the vegetation including trees, shrubs, and trees would be dried up and brown. Everything is green and moist.

  • whatelseisnew Feb 1, 2008


    Not sure what is allowed under State Laws. The state pretty much has hands off with HOAs. Seems to me the folks that belong to HOAs need to adjust their bylaws in a sensible way.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Feb 1, 2008

    Raleigh should ban the sale and planting of Fescue and other cold weather grasses.

    Raleigh should only allow the sale and planting of warm weather grasses including Bermuda, Centipede, and Zoysia.

    The warm weather grasses don't require watering, where as the fescue requires watering to survive our hot summers.

    Yes, the warm weather grasses turn brown in the winter. But if everybody planted warm weather grasses it would look normal.

    I was in Memphis, TN at Christmas. Everybody plants warm weather grasses and has brown yards in the winter.

    It's okay not to have a green putting green year round for your yard.

  • whatelseisnew Feb 1, 2008

    I suggest the following; especially for the people that are being put out of business. Go over to the Mayor's house to do your laundry and to shower. At least this will help you save some money on your water bill. Unfortunately, because the Mayor is unwilling to put a moratorium on new development until the drought breaks, he is picking less powerful victims to exploit. If you own a laundromat you are probably next on the hit parade.