Falls Lake Finally Full; Raleigh to Ease Restrictions

Posted April 6, 2008
Updated April 7, 2008

— Six rainy days last week helped fill up Falls Lake, Raleigh's water source, for the first time in 11 months.

Falls Lake rose more than 10 inches overnight Saturday to reach 252 feet Sunday, Raleigh Public Utilities Director Dale Crisp said. The lake is considered full at 251.5 feet.

The last time Falls Lake exceeded that level was in May 2007, according to U.S. Army Corps of Engineer records. As recently as early March, the lake had been nearly 8 feet below normal.

The Raleigh City Council had given City Manager Russell Allen permission to ease rules and allow the use of hand-held hoses for watering once the lake reached 90 percent.

Mayor Charles Meeker said Sunday an official announcement on reverting to Stage 1 water restrictions is expected to be announced Monday morning.

Businesses that thrive outdoors couldn't be happier.

“No one is looking to have carte blanch lawn watering, (but) certainly have some watering and new landscape installation watering,” plant grower John Harmuth said.

The city adopted Stage 2 restrictions two months ago and eliminated all outdoor watering.

Since then, Harmuth has had to truck in well water for his Farmers Market plants.

“Customers have had to hesitate to purchase anything because they're afraid they can't water it,” he said.

When Raleigh reverts back to Stage 1, irrigation will be allowed one day per week. Residents will also be able to wash cars at home, on the weekends.

“We haven't washed our vehicles in a number of months. We would certainly like to see them get cleaned up,” resident Todd Johnson said.

Since Sunday a week ago, the National Weather Service has recorded 2.55 inches of rain at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport and 4.35 inches in Fayetteville. Chapel Hill saw 1.37 inches, Durham received 1.51 inches, and Cary, Apex and Roanoke Rapids got around an inch.

Tuesday was the only day last week when the NWS did not record rain; Fayetteville saw a trace of rain, while Raleigh got none.

Other area lakes have benefited from the rain as well.

Jordan Lake, which serves Cary and Apex, has risen more than 1 1/2 feet since Friday morning. It was more than 3 feet above normal Sunday.

Lake Michie and the Little River Reservoir, Durham's water sources, were both also above their normal levels.

Kerr Lake in Henderson has risen at least 6 inches, bringing it up to around 303 feet. It is considered full at 301.5 feet.

The state has been in a drought since April 2007, as defined by the North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council.

After the past week's rains, the Triangle is less than an inch behind its normal rainfall for this time of the year. At this point in 2007, the region's rainfall was 8.41 inches below normal.

The Triangle's rainfall deficit is 4.68 inches for the past 12 months and 8.3 inches since January 2007.


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  • luvtheoutdoors Apr 7, 2008

    I think the odd/even lawn irrigation is a good idea - people can't seem to get it through their heads you do NOT need to water established grass every other day - I am looking forward to washing my car though. I agree with Phroge - by next Monday Fall's Lake should be 3 ft below normal b/c people are going to go crazy

  • Dirty Hippie Apr 7, 2008

    I personally think we (Raleigh) should stay on these Stage 1 water restrictions for a pretty good while. People are abusing the water table at a dangerous rate.

  • leaderofthepack Apr 7, 2008

    I think the main prob. is theres just too many ppl depending on Falls Lake for water now. So many people have moved here thats the problem, the "drought" wouldn't be so bad if the supply was more proportional to the demand, its all on the basis of how many people there are these days getting water from falls lake

  • JuanGrande v3.0 Apr 7, 2008

    Raleigh has no say in dredging the lakes, that falls on the Army Corps of Engineers. Just imagine all the greif on that: environmental concerns, who would pay for it, interrupting water flow, etc. Eventhough the lakes are full, let's not blow it all out in six months. There should at least be even/odd car washing and lawn watering. We don't need to have this problem come up again in a year.

  • Phroge Apr 7, 2008

    It will be interesting to see how much water demand jumps with the restrictions lightened. Tomorrow we may well be seeing that the lake is back to 3 feet below normal. Raleigh really blew their chance in the fall when the lake was at its lowest... they really should have been digging it deeper and dredging so that the full pool could hold more water.

  • baracus Apr 7, 2008

    Travised, that picture in the story was taken nearly a month ago when the water WAS still a few feet low.

  • flashlight Apr 7, 2008

    They do have something in the works to create a larger water supply:

  • Travised Apr 7, 2008

    Look at the picture, you can see clear as day the water is not back to normal levels. It is very clear the buffer between the water and the trees where the water normally resided. It looks at a glance to be a three to five foot range in all areas of the picture. This means water is still low for that body of water.

    Not flying over it frequently, I can't say I know it at a glance as I do other lakes. We were down a bit at the float base, quite a bit end of summer where we were scraping the mud to get out. We ended up hammering in a yard post with markers every inch to keep an eye on lake levels the easy way at float base.

    Keep water restrictions where they are for the most part. People would abuse water and it would be back to panic once again if they were all lifted.

  • sixnitepkg Apr 7, 2008

    "The Lake is 1 foot over normal capacity.....why stage 1? Why not the normal year round restrictions? The creeks are over flowing!!!"

    because of the one little FACT that the politicians DO NOT WANT YOU TO KNOW! That fact - Falls lake was only meant to provide H2O capacity for 25 to 30 years of growth, and guess what! we're at 22 years, and growth has far exceeded their expectations... the problem is NOT a "drought" but ONE single dry year, that due to increased demand taxed the lake to near it's total capacity - I'd be more than willing to bet that the lake wouldn't be full now had the ACOE not decreased the amount it released - problem is, what happened to the long-range plan for water supply... surely there was one, why are the politicians not talking about it?

  • Dido Apr 7, 2008

    So, does this mean we don't have to worry about that tiered water billing that they were talking about? After all, the lake is full...why should we be worried? It seems ridiculous that they lift these restrictions the day the lake is full. Just wait...three months from now, they'll be screaming at us about water usage again.