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Near-Record Water Use Could Increase Restrictions

After two days of near-record water use, Raleigh city officials said stronger restrictions could be imposed as early as next month.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — As Raleigh residents pushed water use to near record highs Tuesday, city officials said that could push them to impose more stringent water restrictions.

On Tuesday, residents and communities on the Raleigh system came close to a record for water use for the second time in four days.

Tuesday marked the fourth-highest amount of water drawn from the city's main water treatment plant, and Saturday saw the third-highest amount.

The near-records came even though the city adopted permanent, mandatory restrictions on July 2.

“The fact that we’re in the water rest now and set a third-highest record during that period, I am a little concerned about it,” said Dale Crisp, Raleigh’s Public Utilities Director.

Code-enforcement officers going door-to-door said they have given warnings to more than 200 people who violated the water restrictions. The restrictions limit the use of lawn-irrigation systems to three days a week.

Crisp expressed surprise at those high numbers.

“If you compare that to the number of citations we issued over a seven-month period in the drought we experienced at the end of 2005 … We only issued 546 for that whole period, so here we've already issued 207 in the first nine days,” said Crisp.

If such high water use continues, city officials said they may impose more stringent rules as early as next month. Under those restrictions, lawn watering would be permitted only one day a week.

Residents said that limit would be unpopular.

“I don’t want to imagine that,” said Ivette Rivera, a resident of Knightdale.

The Raleigh Public Utilities Department has distributed 150,000 magnets with the watering schedule printed on them.

Residents at even-numbered addresses may water their lawns on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, and those at odd-numbered addresses on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. All watering is banned on Monday.

Violators are first given a warning, followed by fines. Repeat violators could have their water turned off.

Raleigh implemented the restrictions to lessen the threat of a water shortage during an ongoing drought. The Falls Lake watershed, from which Raleigh draws its water, is in a moderate drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

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