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Raleigh: Growth didn't drain Falls Lake

Posted May 13, 2008

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— Don't blame Raleigh's rapid development in recent years for the critically low levels to which Falls Lake fell in the past year, city officials said Tuesday.

Instead, the record-setting drought North Carolina has gone through is the culprit, Public Utilities Director Dale Crisp said.

The municipal water system has grown by about 10 percent in the last five years, to 415,000 customers. Although the city pumped more water than ever last year, demand stayed about 35 million gallons a day below the system's treatment capacity.

"People tend to look at a situation and compare it with something they are more familiar with," Crisp said. "It was logical for people to assume the reason they were having to restrict water use is because we've grown too fast when, in fact, it was because we had a historic drought."

He blamed irresponsible lawn-watering for excessive water use, noting consumption has spiked in recent years when rainfall totals have fallen below normal.

"The fact that we added customers and they're adding irrigation systems, I guess (was) a factor," he said. "But the fact that they didn't manage those systems better is a point of emphasis as we go forward."

City Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin said new year-round rules for Raleigh water customers will likely limit how people can irrigate.

"People are using drinking water to water lawns. We have to treat that as a precious commodity," Baldwin said.

The city also plans to build a new treatment plant and build a new reservoir over the next dozen years to almost double its daily capacity and meet growing demand.

Still, some groups said they support tougher water restrictions to keep demand in check as the region grows.

"What we think needs to happen is that, as we're looking to the future, we have to recognize both growth needs and the potential impact of climate change (and) increased evaporation," said Karen Rindge, chairwoman of WakeUP Wake County, a group advocating slower growth.


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  • foetine May 14, 2008

    nobody used to water their lawns 20 years ago.

  • GWALLY May 14, 2008

    Well I guess they think that since we were stupid enough to put them in office we are stupid enough to belive this garbage of an excuse!!!

  • WRALSUCKS May 14, 2008

    "He blamed irresponsible lawn-watering for excessive water use"

    Idiotic. I'm surprise "irresponsible showering" and "irresponsible car washing" didn't make the list.

    News flash for Raleigh: PEOPLE WATER LAWNS!

  • richard2 May 14, 2008

    these people have mental problems.

  • misschris234 May 14, 2008

    I swear I'm not whinning, if anything, I along with the other citizens, are losing (or is that loosing?? :p)

  • blackdog May 14, 2008

    So, why don't some of you Einsteins run for office if you think that you can do better? Stop whinning and be thankful we have some citizens who are willing to step forward and take a leadership role with all the flak that comes with it.

    Is that the best defense you have for lack of decisive actions, inept foresight and considering the citizens ignorant enough to believe the lame excuses...? ...

  • NeverSurrender May 14, 2008

    "Guess they think we're stupid enough to believe this!"


    The truly sad thought is that most of the time, they're right...the electorate truly is that stupid.

  • Scubagirl May 14, 2008

    Guess they think we're stupid enough to believe this!

  • charlesboyer May 14, 2008

    "these people don't care how much water their lawn needs - they have to run their sprinklers around the clock. "

    Yep, I've seen that. Someone was watering yesterday in our little neighborhood and we thought the guy had to be stupid -- it rained over an inch on Sunday.

    Little does he know he's setting up that precious grass to die of disease.

  • foetine May 14, 2008

    these people don't care how much water their lawn needs - they have to run their sprinklers around the clock. These are the same pea brains that run their outdoor Christmas lights for five months and then have the nerve to complain about their electric bills.