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Cary gets creative with water conservation

Posted March 16, 2008
Updated October 21, 2011

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— Cary is implementing new conservation programs in an effort to get homeowners to save water.

"I find that most people think that plants need a lot more water than they do,” said Keith Ramsey, with Cary Garden Supply.

The same goes for certain types of grass. Warm-season grass needs a lot less water to survive and that got the town of Cary's attention.

Homeowners who rip out at least 1,000 square feet of fescue and replace it with warm-season grass will get $500. It is just one of four incentives to getting citizens to conserve water.

“Over the course of this summer and throughout this drought, we certainly have had plenty of requests for these types of programs,” said Marie Cefalo, water conservation coordinator for Cary.

If 200 homeowners took part in warm-season grass program, Cary officials estimate it would save about 800,000 gallons of water per year based on six months of irrigation.

Another conservation program gives builders a deal. The town will reduce fees by 21 percent when warm-season grass is planted at a new home development. If 50 new homes per month take advantage of the incentive, town officials estimate Cary will save 9 million gallons of water over the course of a year.

New rain barrels cost around $87. Cary is urging residents make a barrel, from a kit, for a lot less money.

“It's just a low-cost alternative,” Cefalo said.

The fourth program helps citizens who have homes built before 1992. If the house has not been remodeled, it probably has a 3.5-gallon-per-flush toilet. Residents can turn in older toilets and get a rebate toward a high-efficiency toilet that uses 1.3 gallons per flush.

If 400 toilets were replaced every year, town officials estimate Cary would save as much as 2.6 million gallons of water.

Cefalo said the town still needs to work out the specific requirements for each conservation program.

Jordan Lake is Cary's primary source of drinking water. The town uses  about 10 million gallons a day.

Cary has had fewer water restrictions than other surrounding areas during the recent drought.

The town's outdoor sprinkling ban is scheduled to continue until March 31.

The ban doesn't apply to homes and businesses that use reclaimed water or people who irrigate with wells or from lakes, town officials said. Watering by hand, pressure-washing, and car washing are still allowed any day of the week.


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  • DurhamDude Mar 17, 2008

    I am thinking about Centipede grass because of the low water and fertilizing requirements, hot weather tolerance, and not as fast growing. If anybody knows of a reason not to use Centipede grass, I'd like to hear about it.

  • emaleth Mar 17, 2008

    I am all for warm-season grass. I grew up with it myself. We started replacing all our fescue around the current house with centipede seed years ago (we have a large lot) and have never fertilized it. It looks great, and is not as invasive in a garden as bermuda. Last year we didn't even use supplemental water. I have been telling all the yankee transplants to use warm-season grass down here for a while. Now all we have to deal with is the attitude that "I want a green grass in Winter." It's not natural!

  • Cahulawassee Mar 17, 2008

    DurhamDude, bermuda definitely requires more frequent mowing when it is actively growing (hot weather). Only the tip stays green, so if you cut it too low it will look whitish for a few days until the tips green up again. June->Sept I usually cut mine twice a week which keeps it low, green, and lush. It also has pretty high fertilization requirements while actively growing.

    Overall, I think it beats huge water bills and reseeding it every year, plus you get to take the bulk of the year off from any mowing at all.

  • DurhamDude Mar 17, 2008

    Does Bermuda grass require more frequent mowing?

  • DurhamDude Mar 17, 2008

    x's... does the comma go inside the quotation marks or outside?

  • jsanders Mar 17, 2008

    At least Cary is attempting positive incentives rather than negative ones, like Raleigh: http://triangle.johnlocke.org/blog/?p=1850

  • Mike128 Mar 17, 2008

    I tried to get Bermuda or Zoysia installed instead of fescue and the builder wouldn't do it when we had our house built. I told them right up front I would pay the price difference, no luck.

    Last year, the builder had it's construction office on a lot and someone got on them to put grass on the lot. They installed bermuda... When they moved the trailer to build a house, they dug up the bermuda and replaced it with fescue, which of course, died off.

  • DurhamDude Mar 17, 2008

    Maybe Raleigh should pay its people to remove their garbage disposers.

  • xxxxxxxxxxxxx Mar 17, 2008

    DurhamDude, reread the story. They aren't paying people to plant grass, they are giving them incentives to replace the grass they ALREADY HAVE with a more drought tolerant variety.

    And, by the way, the plural of resident is "residents", not residence. A residence is the place where the residents live.

  • DurhamDude Mar 17, 2008

    Irock, did you sod or start with seed? If sod, how much was a sq. ft. of sod?