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More Water in Falls Lake Doesn't Signal Drought's End

Posted March 10, 2008

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— Falls Lake appears to be leveling off after picking up about 5 feet from last week's rains.

The lake level was at 248½ feet Monday, a little less than 3 feet below normal. In recent weeks, it had been about 8 feet below normal.

Two storm systems last week dumped about 3 inches of rain on the Triangle.

"It's great news for all our citizens," Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said.

In addition to the rain, other factors could help the levels of Falls Lake go even higher:

  • The Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the lake, on March 3 cut the releases into the Neuse River by about 17 million gallons a day.
  • Tougher water restrictions that Raleigh imposed three weeks ago have reduced consumption by about 3 million gallons a day.
  • The lake loses less water to evaporation in cool weather.

  • Lake Michie, one of Durham's reservoirs, has refilled, meaning any new rains will flow downstream into Falls Lake.

Meeker said last week that city officials would look at easing some water restrictions that have impacted local businesses.

The Stage 2 restrictions implemented Feb. 15 banned the use of city water for outdoor irrigation and pressure-washing and required car washes to be certified by city inspectors to remain in operation.

"We should have the ability to say, when we get to a certain level of the lake, we're going to provide some relief for the super-affected industries," Meeker said.

Still, Raleigh officials are quick to note that the drought isn't over and that Stage 2 water restrictions would remain in place for the foreseeable future.

"Hopefully, nobody's silly enough to say (the drought is over) and start going back to their old habits," City Councilman Philip Isley said. "Certainly, people need to understand this is still very serious. We're not out of the woods yet."

Even when Stage 2 rules are lifted, Raleigh's year-round restrictions could become tougher, such as limiting outdoor watering to one or two days a week.

"Even when the lake is full, that will mean a day or two a week a few hours a day, not any day, all the day, like we used to have," Meeker said.


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  • butterbean7258 Mar 11, 2008

    Iron Man---excellent point! I work in the plant business and have customers who use very little water inside and would like to water their plants or be able to water this spring. If lake levels get full wouldn't it make sense to allow people to water and add to the ground water than just letting it be released down stream..?

  • Iron Man Mar 11, 2008

    Our leaders are not taking measures to motivate users to conserve they are actually motivating people to use more. My wife and I have done a lot to conserve, but we know that there are a lot of families that use a lot of water inside that can't be controlled. The point is that we do not use much water inside, but would like to use for other purposes, washing car, waterign plants. If the city would say you may use up to 3000 gallons a month any way you wish then you can use the water the way you can use water any way you'd like. If you go over the 3000, then you pay a surcharge (high) up to 4000 then higher for each 1000 gal more. That way if you have have hot tubs, whirle pool baths, wash 2 pair of socks in the washing machine, you pay for it. We've started saying why do we want to conserve. City leaders, even if Falls overflows at a rate of 1,000,000 gal. per hour, allowing citizens to use water the way they wish given the contraints shown above.

  • Z Man Mar 11, 2008

    I celebrated this weekend by washing my car and topping off my swimming pool.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Mar 10, 2008

    "Is Raleigh offering any tax incentives for residences who install reduced water flow devices?"

    Once you reduce your water usage by conserving, they'll raise your water bill to maintain revenue. Similar to what the oil companies do.

  • colliedave Mar 10, 2008

    "It's great news for all our citizens," Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said.

    and I take full credit for it...

  • Here kitty kitty Mar 10, 2008

    OMG I'm so confused!!!!

  • Here kitty kitty Mar 10, 2008

    OK, let me see if I have this straight: if it's mellow on Tues and Fri I can flush it down. If it's Wed, Sat, and Sun...no wait, that was Sun and Mon on odd days, and Wed Fri and Sat if the address is even...what????

  • jenstog Mar 10, 2008

    There are finite natural resources and there are renewable resources. Water will continue to fall right out of the sky (or either we'll all die anyway) and what we need to do is build something to catch it. It's ridiculous for any city in the eastern part of the United States not to have enough water for it's citizens.

    Wow for a sec there I thought my husband actually read the news online and decided to comment! I've heard this exact same belief in my house since this whole 'water crisis' and my husband still maintains that it's ludicris to live on a planet that's 2/3rds water and not be able to figure this stuff out!

  • veyor Mar 10, 2008

    What we're not going to do is in any way try to speed up the process of providing the water that the city needs.

  • fedupwithitall Mar 10, 2008

    sunburn...only on Monday and Wednesday if you have an even numbered address. Tuesday and Thursday if your address is odd.

    ; )