Durham, Raleigh Set Up Water Violator Hot Lines
Posted July 2, 2002 12:54 p.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — The recent rains have not done enough to provide serious drought relief across the Triangle, but water restrictions have helped a bit. Residents in the following counties are under voluntary water restrictions: Chatham, Johnston, Franklin, Vance, Warren, Edgecombe, Cumberland and Moore. In Wake, Durham, Orange and Granville counties, water restrictions are mandatory.
On Wednesday, consumers in Raleigh used 66.6 million gallons of water. On Thursday, the day after
were announced, consumers used 46.5 million gallons of water.
Watering lawns on the wrong day, washing a vehicle at home, or filling a fountain or pool could be costly for Raleigh residents. As of 8 a.m. Monday, violators can be fined $500 a day.
"The last thing we want to do is have to issue a citation that has a financial penalty, but we need that by ordinance and the council has given us that," city manager Russell Allen said.
Any action regarding a fine will be handled by the Public Utilities Department no matter who reports the violation.
Since voluntary water restrictions were put into effect in early June, water usage increased to an all-time high.
"You'd like to think people would do this cooperatively, but a lot of people just aren't going to pay attention. Hitting them in the pocketbook may be the only thing that will work," said Jim Mulholland.
Mulholland hopes the fines will get people's attention. He is not wasting water around his house. He has collected rain to fill his fish pond and has let his lawn go for the summer.
"It's a good idea now. If we don't do it now, it's going to be worse later," he said.
Residents have also called city officials for clarification about water use. For instance, sometimes power washing a house is OK.
"As long as the house is being painted, then it's OK to power wash. Now, for just cosmetic purposes, that would not be allowed," Allen said.
Falls Lake is at its lowest level since the city started keeping track 15 years ago. Raleigh residents Ralph and Marjorie Smith cut back on water use after the city announced voluntary restrictions.
"We wash clothes less often. We used to use the dishwasher a lot, but we don't use it as often as we used to," Marjorie Smith said.
Now that residents are required to conserve, any city employee can report a violation.
"That includes members of the City Council," said Councilman Benson Kirkman. "If I have a constituent or a neighbor who I see doing it, I'll warn them first. But if I come back and they're still doing it, I'll report them."
City leaders said they will give out warnings for the next few days. After that, if a city employee witnesses a violation, residents could be fined.
Raleigh residents can report violations by calling 890-3400.
Water consumption in the Bull City dropped from 36 million gallons on Wednesday to less than 33 million gallons on Thursday when
were announced. By Sunday, only 26 million gallons of water wwere used.
Durham city leaders are asking residents to call 560-4381, ext. 262, to report any concerns or violations of its water conservation ordinance. Violations can also be reported
Officials said as of Monday afternoon, over 100 reports had come in by phone and e-mail.
In an effort to preserve its water supply, the town of Morrisville implemented
mandatory water conservation
measures on Monday.
All use of in-ground irrigation systems or portable sprinklers is allowed only Thursdays and Saturdays for even-numbered addresses and Fridays and Sundays for odd-numbered addresses. Water use for those purposes is only allowed between the hours of 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.
Hand watering, car washing, and use of other water sources, including ponds, lakes, wells, and non-potable supplies, are not restricted at this time.
For Cary residents, the town's tough water
are year-round. Two years ago, Cary enacted mandatory conservation measures.
A five-member enforcement staff has issued 400 violations this year, with hefty fines that motivate most residents to follow the rules.
"People in the area have become attuned to the water conservation message, knowing that it is just part of our culture here," said Marie Delforge of Cary's Water Conservation Office.
Delforge said that enforcement is more important now, during a drought. Violators are warned first, then given a $100 fine. Repeat offenders can be fined up to $1,000.
Delforge said the year-round restrictions are a necessity in a town that has grown faster than its water supply. The town also wants to avoid having to expand its water treatment plant.
Under Cary's rules, when as little as one-fourth of an inch of rain falls, residents are not allowed to water lawns the next day.
Fayetteville currently has no mandatory restrctions in place.
The state suggests that everyone in the Cape Fear River basin go to mandatory restrictions, but Fayetteville leaders are still working to determine the necessity of a mandatory ordinance.
The city said it always encourages residents to use the odd-even watering plan, because it is the most efficient use of water.