Chatham County Water Restrictions Reach Inside Customers' Homes
Posted November 15, 2005 7:24 a.m. EST
CHATHAM COUNTY, N.C. — In Chatham County, how, when and where people use water is becoming the county's business.
As Jordan Lake falls more than 4 feet below normal, water restrictions are getting tighter for water customers, but county leaders say if the latest restrictions do not help reduce water usage, they may not be enough.
For example, water customers have been told to limit their showers to 4 minutes and to limit the number of times they flush the toilet throughout the day -- things that county officials admit are difficult to enforce.
"The idea is to let people know that it is a problem and it's severe enough that it is mandatory," said County Manager Charlie Horne. "It's hard to go in and say, 'I'm going to time your shower for 4 minutes, but on the other hand, it's getting folks to think about things that may not be obvious until we bring it to their attention."
At cafes and restaurants, the message to save is being heard loud and clear. If not because of the strict water rules, then the surging water bills are changing habits.
"We're limiting the water on the tables unless people ask for it and we're doing everything we can in the kitchen," said Gene Oldham, owner of S & T's Soda Shoppe.
Everything they can may not be enough. The county says it is too early to tell if the tough approach is working and if it is not, it could go to level two or level three restrictions.
Right now, a first offense is 50 dollars. After that it is $100 and violators face the possibility of having their water shut off.
The town of Cary, which also draws from Jordan Lake, has no plans to beef up restrictions. Leaders said they have had water rules in place non-stop since 2000.