Local News

Durham City Council to Discuss Tougher Water Rules

Posted February 18, 2008

— Despite the rain overnight, the drought is still on today’s agenda for the Durham City Council.

Durham water customers follow Stage 4 restrictions, and leaders will discuss possibly implementing tougher rules.

City leaders say one of the last things they want to do is deter positive growth, and some say a move to Stage 5 restrictions could do that in some ways.

“We all want to know the city has enough water to sustain our everyday activities as well as future development,” Durham Mayor Bill Bell said.

In his state of the city address last month, Bell stressed the city’s right to shut out any new customers who want to tap into the water system.

“(We) have the legal authority to determine when and if persons can connect to our water and sewer systems,” he said.

There is also talk of changing how much people in Durham pay for their water. Bell has discussed possible tiered water rates – the more customers use, the most they pay for it.


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  • dcatz Feb 19, 2008

    It doesn't matter how the supply is calculated. The fact is, it's gone up. By a lot this month. Every week since January, there has been a net income of days left. It's gone from 150 days to 240 days in a period of 5 weeks.

    Lake Michie is only 3 feet below what is considered full. Little River is at 335 feet, well above the record low set a few years ago. In addition, the water levels of both have been steadily rising.

  • Durham-Raleigh Feb 19, 2008

    "There is no water shortage and the Durham City Council bloody well knows that. We haven't even passed the record low lake levels set in 2002."

    Umm, sorry, but that's just wrong.

    First of all, our 243 days of supply assumes current usage rates, which are always low in the winter due to cooler temperatures (which means less loss to evaporation, less use of cooling towers by industrial and institutional users, etc.)

    Adjust for spring/summer/fall use and you're going to see demand up from ~20 MGD to 30 MGD, meaning we'd have only about 160 days of supply.

    Take away the flow from Cary -- always a possibility if Raleigh gets desperate for water -- and you're into ~135 days.

    NC DENR, experts at Triangle JCOG, the US gov't., and the Nicholas School at Duke all tell us this is a drought without recent precedent. We need to increase our supplies -- and conserve.

    Conspiracy theorists would do well to shape their tin-foil hats to catch any sporadic rain and run it into a water bottle.

  • WHEEL Feb 18, 2008

    Is this "legal council" that they checked with the same one who couldn't cut it as City Manager and has been demoted to City Attorney

  • bluetarheel21 Feb 18, 2008

    i think this meeting is LONG over due!

  • dcatz Feb 18, 2008

    Since last week, the water supply has gone from having 214 days of water remaining to 243 days of water remaining. And that's not counting last night's rain.

    Lake Michie is only 3 feet below what is considered full. And again, that's not counting last night's rain.

    There is no water shortage and the Durham City Council bloody well knows that. We haven't even passed the record low lake levels set in 2002.

  • mugofstout2 Feb 18, 2008

    Funny thing is, while Bell and the Council now babble about conservation they try to force my subdivision onto the city water system. I live in willow Hill, outside of the city limits. But Bell and the Bunch are forcing me to pay for a sewer line into the neighborhood that is not wanted, just to get our money.

  • Beachnut Feb 18, 2008

    As dysfunctional as Durham government is, I have to applaud them for at least thinking about "detering" growth, lest mother nature fulfill their destiny for them (as it will in Raleigh).

  • itsnotmeiswear Feb 18, 2008

    I have never seen as much activity as this weekend on homes for sale in my Johnston county neighborhood. I think the Raleigh drought and school system problems are going to cause major long term consequences for the developers in the area. I sure wouldn't buy a house in Wake county.

  • obs Feb 18, 2008

    Durham reacts, raleigh sleeps. Two of the most effective strategies, reducing hookups and tiered water rates implemented in durham, beyond the grasp of raleigh city council.


  • Durham-Raleigh Feb 18, 2008


    So glad you live on the Sprawleigh side of the house. Aren't there teardown fights or eminent domain battles you need to weigh in on?

    The issue here is about blocking new construction from connecting to the water supply if we reach the Stage V restriction called "Rationing." Which is one half-step before they start trucking in water.

    The City Council folk have checked with counsel and have determined they have the legal authority to not issue permits. And developers 'round here have known this for several months now.

    Worth noting that four months ago, Raleigh had more premium water left than Durham. Durham went into a lockdown mode on water restriction (with mixed results), but more importantly, rushed through planned projects to widen interconnections with Cary and to tap an unused but partially full quarry.

    Meanwhile, the Wake sleepyheads are busy grousing over HOA covenants mandating green lawns.

    We'll drink a glass for you when Falls Lake finishes falling!