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Raleigh Eyes Easing Restrictions as Falls Lake Fills

Posted March 6, 2008

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— Two days after a storm added more than 2 feet to the level of Falls Lake, Mayor Charles Meeker said Thursday that the city might pull back on water restrictions that have impacted some area businesses.

Rains late Tuesday boosted Raleigh's available drinking water supply to at least 164 days – until mid-August – based on current consumption levels, Public Utilities Director Dale Crisp said.

Falls Lake, the city's primary reservoir, is now about 5½ feet below normal after hovering close to 8 feet below normal for the past month. Officials said they are hopeful another storm system forecast for late Friday will raise the lake even more.

The increased water supply is prompting Meeker to start putting together a proposal that would provide landscapers, power-washing contractors and swimming-pool operators more flexibility to operate under Stage 2 water restrictions.

The Stage 2 restrictions, which were imposed on Feb. 15, prevented people on the municipal water system from using drinking water for outdoor irrigation or power-washing and required car washes to be certified by the city to stay in operation.

Crisp has said that the restrictions, the toughest rules Raleigh has put in its regulatory arsenal thus far, have cut consumption by about 3 million gallons a day in recent weeks.

"Our real focus is to make sure restrictions are fair and equitable and everyone is participating in conservation," Meeker said. "The (Stage 2) restrictions will remain in place until lake levels are replenished (to) about 80 to 90 percent and the weather patterns have changed (to) where it looks like we're getting normal weather as opposed to extremely dry weather."

Meanwhile, Gov. Mike Easley on Thursday reiterated his call for water conservation, despite signs the drought was easing in the short term.

Thirty-nine North Carolina counties, including all of the Triangle, continue to experience exceptional drought conditions, the worst of five categories monitored by the state Drought Management Advisory Council. Another 32 counties are in extreme drought, 23 are in severe drought and six are in a moderate drought, according to a report released Thursday.

Two weeks ago, 64 counties were in exceptional drought conditions.

“People have to take water conservation more seriously,” Easley said in a statement. “The level of conservation now is not going to get the job done. More is needed.”

Forty-nine state government buildings have adopted water-saving measures that will conserve an estimated 1 million gallons a year, he said.


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  • YipesStripes Mar 7, 2008

    The people who run our state worry me. NC is never prepared for anything. We let drought sink in to the point of needing severe restrictions instead of having a converation plan in action year-round to help maintain water, drought or not. Then, we get any amount of ice or snow and no one knows how to function - we don't have the appropriate equipment to clear roads. There is zero logic. Everyone waits until situations are too far gone. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best at all times.

  • SheriffTruman Mar 7, 2008

    There is no reason not to retract the stage 2 restrictions now as they were only supposed to be in place when there were less than 90 day ssupply. That is why there are stages in the first place. I do not think they are saying lets all run water down teh drain.

    In fact, since they have published rules about when the stage 2 restrictions are to be used and they are now not obeying them, businesses that have been impacted might well have a case to sue the city.

  • Adelinthe Mar 7, 2008


    Fill that doggone lake full up first. sigh

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • ThePhwner Mar 7, 2008

    Wow. After months we finally get a *slight* improvement and they want to ease the restrictions. If they are lifted, how long until daily H20 demand rises again....and lake levels fall.

    This is the same short-sighted logic that trades one environmental problem (drought) for another (use disposable plates/cups).

    If we keep the restrictions in place and allow the rains to continue, there is a much better chance of escaping the current drought.

    I could really care less about green lawns and swimming pools when our water supply is being measured in periods of less than 6 months.

  • WRALSUCKS Mar 7, 2008

    " ......the most extreme droughts in recorded time."

    Which would be remarkable, if it were true...which it is not.

  • WRALSUCKS Mar 7, 2008

    It would appear that the "crisis" will shortly be over, given reasonably normal rainfall.

    Now...let's see if Meeker actually DOES something about moderating growth while infrastructure is built to catch up, or just goes back to his "Growth at any cost, as long as we can increase taxes" mode.

  • WRALSUCKS Mar 7, 2008

    "I am continually amazed that some people automatically assume that anything the government does is a tax increase."

    Call it a fee, a charge, an assessment, or a revenue enhancement, the goobermint would not adjust rates for any other reason to increase revenue.

    Any other conclusion would be akin to belief in the tooth fairy.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Mar 7, 2008

    Only in Meekerville could we have the Mayor and City Manager consider loosening water restrictions during one of the most extreme droughts in recorded time.

  • hollylama Mar 7, 2008

    People react to the title of the article. Who has time to read?...thats what television is for!

  • FairPlay Mar 7, 2008

    This is a joke! So we get two feet of water ans suddenly it is great again? Get a clue Raleigh. Saving water is always smart and how short sighted to think the drought is over. Meeker should be the first to have to buy drinking water when it gets bad again!