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Falls Lake falls back below normal

Posted June 18, 2008
Updated March 7, 2010

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— Falls Lake has dipped below normal for the first time since recovering from its record deficit on April 5, 2008. The lake currently stands at 251.24 feet, which is approximately 3 inches below full. In response, a Raleigh City Council member has suggested tougher water restrictions, but the mayor disagreed.

"In the summer, the lake does fall below full pool,” Ed Buchan, water conservation specialist with Raleigh's Public Utilities Department, said.

The U.S. Drought Monitor reclassified all of Wake County in the moderate drought category last week. The rainfall deficit for 2007 was 7.2 inches, giving a shortfall of 9.45 inches since Jan. 1, 2007.

Do we need "to address this report from the city manager about the lake levels or not?" Councilman Rodger Koopman asked during a Tuesday night City Council meeting.

Mayor Charles Meeker said the discussion was not necessary.

"It really isn't time to be talking about tougher (water) restrictions," Meeker said.

Raleigh water customers can only irrigate two days a week. Odd-numbered property addresses are permitted to irrigate on Tuesdays and Saturdays, while even-numbered property addresses may do so on Wednesdays and Sundays. The restriction has caused a nearly 20-percent drop in water use over this time last year.

Meeker said new measures should not be necessary unless lake levels drop around 30-percent.

Koopman doesn't think the city can wait that long.

"I am already seeing this trend line following the exact same trend line we had last year, which goes all the way down until we are out of the reserve pool," Koopman said.

Buchan with Raleigh Utilities said dipping below full is normal this time of year, but "we never fully recovered from last year's drought."

Although some rainfall is forecasted for the weekend, it is not expected to be significant. Below normal rainfall is anticipated for next 10 days, with only scattered showers predicted.

The Water Conservation Advisory Council meets Wednesday to talk about water restrictions. They said the best thing Raleigh residents can do in the meantime is continue to conserve.

19 Comments

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  • fkhaywood Jun 18, 2008

    Conservation is not the total answer; Raleigh and Wake County has grown too much and too fast in recent times. Until Raleigh develops alternate sources of water, there will be shortages almost every year. Infastructure growth has kept pace with the growth in population!

  • PeaceOut2017 Jun 18, 2008

    No amount of conservation will affect ground water levels if you're not on a private well. In fact just the opposite, for those on the city water system watering your yard has a positive affect on ground water

  • john60 Jun 18, 2008

    The reason why last year's lack of rainfall is still relevent is because it affects the groundwater under our feet. Not the reservoir so much, of course, but it's still important to know we've not had the average amount of rainfall for several years now.

  • xxxxxxxxxxxxx Jun 18, 2008

    If Falls Lake has been full since April then what difference does it make if the rainfall in 2007 was below normal? Obviously the lake caught up so I wish they would stop bemoaning how little rain we got LAST year.

  • HJRVS Jun 18, 2008

    Vote for Obama. He will make sure we have water plenty of water..."for the children".

  • mas Jun 18, 2008

    everyone start conserving again, if we don't get rain in the next 547 days we'll be out of water

  • bs101fly Jun 18, 2008

    Uuuuuuuuuuuuuu, everyone stop showering and run for BJ's to stock up on water! It's a scary time in the triangle!

  • TreeSquire Jun 18, 2008

    3" Below Full Is Below Normal? Are You Kidding Me?

  • TrooperChik Jun 18, 2008

    We need to get Meeker and that crazy Town Manager out of there. They are obviously not interested in protecting the 'future' of our city. Seems like they are more interested in the right now issues and how good they look.

  • whatelseisnew Jun 18, 2008

    Something I have never seen reported is: Assume normal rainfall - what is the maximum number of users that can be sustained by Falls Lake? Assume a dry season; say 75 percent of normal rainfall - Again what is the maximum number of users? I would take that down to 50 percent of normal rainfall. Once I understood that information, I would make sure that I did not have more users than my available water resource would sustain at 50 percent of normal rainfall, and sustain those users without implementing restrictions. That way, I can use restrictions in an intelligent way to get the users through extreme dry periods without shutting down businesses and asking people to please not flush. But that would be called actual planning based on facts instead of how much money can I get so that I leave Raleigh as a rich man.

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