Local News

Raleigh Could Soon See Tighter Water Restrictions

Posted May 8, 2007 9:05 p.m. EDT
Updated May 9, 2007 5:33 p.m. EDT

— Some Raleigh residents may have to tighten their tap as the city considers mandatory, year-round water restrictions.

Under a proposal approved Tuesday by the Raleigh Public Works Committee, residents with odd-numbered addresses could water their lawns only on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Those with even-numbered addresses could water lawns on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. No watering would be allowed on Mondays.

The proposed restrictions would apply to water customers with automated and fixed irrigation systems. The restrictions would not apply to open-hose watering. However, once a sprinkler attachment is added, the restrictions would apply.

The plan would also affect the areas outside Raleigh that get water from the city, including Garner, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Knightdale, Wendell and Zebulon.

"If we get into a drought situation, which we've had several droughts over the last couple of years, then we'll go to even more restrictions after that," City Councilwoman Jessie Taliaferro said.

Those restrictions could include washing vehicles and the time of day that customers would be allowed to water lawns.

The proposed restrictions are modeled closely after the restrictions Cary put into place back in May 2000. Cary officials said there is no way to accurately gauge how much water is saved with the restrictions, but the limits spread out peak demand, which cuts down on the amount of water used.

Raleigh residents consume an average of 52 million gallons of water daily, with the number hitting 70 million gallons on a peak day.

"If you were to average (water usage) over the past five to six years, it's increased 3 percent each year," said Dale Crisp, the city's public utilities director.

Taliaferro said she expects the full council to approve the restrictions at its meeting next Tuesday. If the City Council approves the proposal, it would go into effect July 1.

Taliaferro said after a year, the City Council would look at the data, to make sure the measure is doing what it's supposed to do -- saving water.

The first violation of the new rules would be a warning. After that, there would be a $50 fine, and it would go up from there. If approved, there would be a public education campaign to help Raleigh water customers adapt to the change.

Mandatory water restrictions in Raleigh were lifted last May after a six-month period in which the city's main source of water, Falls Lake, dropped 8 feet below normal. The city has been under voluntary water restrictions since 2002.

Raleigh resident Sharon Bright said she doesn't mind mandatory water restrictions, but she said the city should look at what's draining the water supply

"(Watering) every other day is adequate, but I think the city needs to take up its own part and that is to restrict growth so we don't drain our reservoirs dry and then cry help," Bright said.

A task force last spring presented the City Council with numerous proposals for water conservation, including year-round limitations on watering regardless of reservoir levels. The study cited increasing population that will add demand regardless of rainfall.

The city broke ground last month on a new water-treatment plant south of Garner to bring water from Lake Benson into the system and raise capacity.