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Drought Causes Changes at Fairgrounds and Farmers Market

Posted February 16, 2008

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— The Stage 2 restrictions – the toughest water rules on the books in Raleigh – ban outdoor watering. That means some changes at the State Fairgrounds and State Farmers Market.

"We're going to be under some mandatory restrictions here at the fairgrounds," State Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said. "The horse shows may be adversely affected."

Horse Allie Lou used to get a thorough wash down at the State Fairgrounds before a show, but that was before Stage 2 water restrictions.

"With rag and the water you have in your bucket," horse owner Melea Kirk said as she described how she washes Allie Lou since the horse wash-pit became off-limits. 

Horse owners can now only fill buckets of water, for spot-cleaning or drinking water.

"We were told the (horse) judges were supposed to overlook any dirty horses," Kirk said.

Fairground managers said they use private pond water to clean the horse building. They have also installed 250 low-flow aerators in bathroom sinks throughout the fairgrounds.

The Triangle received a little over an inch of rain late Tuesday and Wednesday, but Falls Lake, Raleigh's primary reservoir, remains about 8½ feet below normal. With the lake levels down, attendance at this weekend's Carolina Power & Sailboat Show in Raleigh dropped about 15 percent from last year.

Falls Lake may be closed to boaters, but boat vendors said they are not worried about sales.

"Fortunately we sell boats to seven or eight different lakes and many of the lakes are able to boat right now," boat vendor Jimmy Dallas said.

At the Farmers Market, outdoor faucets and spigots are no longer in use. Farmers must wash produce on the farm, or bring their own water.

The impact of Stage 2 water restrictions probably won't be fully felt until March and April when plant and flower growers arrive at the Farmers Market.

"In a normal year, we have taps run to all of their spaces, so they water at will," Ronnie Best, State Farmer's Market manager, said.

But that is not the case this year due to the drought.

"I've talked to several plant farmers. They're going to adapt and bring their own water," Best said.

Meanwhile, city inspectors cited two car washes Saturday for violating Stage 2 water restrictions. They were fined $1,000 each.

The restrictions require car washes to use recycled water. About 60 car washes that do not reuse water will have to close. Outdoor irrigation, hand-watering,and using public water for power washing are also banned.


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