Local News

Fire Department Not to Blame for Johnston Co. Water Restrictions

Posted May 30, 2007 6:03 p.m. EDT
Updated May 30, 2007 8:04 p.m. EDT

— Johnston County leaders say a lack of rain is to blame for the imposition current water restrictions, not a volunteer fire department that used more than 300,000 gallons of water to refill ponds drained to fight a fire that burned for weeks at a local yard-waste facility.

The county asked residents to begin conserving water last week after discovering the water level of the Neuse River was low.

Officials initially thought a water main break caused the low levels, but then realized the Archer Lodge Volunteer Fire Department had refilled ponds after new hot spots popped up at Stump Dump Inc., where a spontaneous fire broke out and burned for days before firefighters were able to bring it under control.

Fire Chief Pete Barnes said his department did what it thought was best for the safety of the community and did not know there was a water concern.

County Manager Rick Hester admitted Wednesday there was some miscommunication, but said the fire department is not to blame for the restrictions.

"The isolated situation last week has absolutely nothing to do with the situation we're in now," Hester said.

Instead, lack of rain and low Neuse River levels are to blame for the need for water restrictions, he said.

The plan announced Tuesday calls for mandatory restrictions on watering at residences and non-agricultural businesses who get water through the four municipal systems and two companies that the county supplies.

There are no penalties, for now. The county is focused on cutting daily usage now so the water that flows now will continue to flow in the future.

The current mandatory water conservation allows businesses and residences with addresses ending in odd numbers to water on odd-numbered days Tuesdays through Sundays and even-numbered properties on even days. The county says no one may water on Mondays.