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Year-Round Water Restrictions May Be On Tap In Raleigh

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The heavy rain is exactly what our region needs for drought relief -- but it might not be enough.

Right now, drought conditions are severe in the Triangle. Raleigh water customers have been under mandatory water restrictions for months.

A task force is now recommending major changes to keep the city's water supply flowing. The city's water supply, Falls Lake, is at just 80 percent of its normal capacity.

For months, a water conservation task force has pored over ideas -- and now it's out with recommendations.

It proposes year-round water restrictions that include watering your lawn just three days a week."I think it's something that goes along with growth," said Raleigh resident Ted Pattison. "I'm OK with it."

Leaders say the lack of rain, more than population growth, is why the city is so dry. The plan suggests simplifying the mandatory water restrictions for customers and a rebate program to encourage conservation.

Another proposal is to implement a rate structure. Under the proposal, if your household uses a lot more than the average amount of water, you'll pay more.

"If you are conscientious about water use, it should be easy for most homeowners to abide by consumption," said Mary Brice, chairman of the Water Conservation Task Force. "If it does kick in, it will be a wakeup call to reduce household use."

When the full city council gets the plan Tuesday, that idea is likely to be controversial.

Mayor Charles Meeker believes changes should be geared at saving water, not soaking the public.

"If you have a higher rate for larger users some may be families, larger families that have to use more water or families that have less efficient appliances that are older," Meeker said.

He hopes the council will approve a long-term water saving plan within a few weeks.

Unless there is a lot of rain over the next month or so, Meeker said it's likely the city will further limit water restrictions to lawn watering just once a week.

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