Local News

New Meters Could Cost Raleigh Water Customers

Posted July 23, 2007 11:46 p.m. EDT

— In the face of drought conditions, Raleigh is requiring some water customers to buy a second meter that could cost them more than double to irrigate their lawns.

The regulation requires homeowners to install a second water meter on new lawn irrigation systems. The law applies to City of Raleigh water customers in Wake Forest, Garner, Rolesville, Knightdale, Wendell and Zebulon, as well as Raleigh.

Officials estimated that a second meter would increase the cost of a new irrigation system by $1,000.

The meter also allows the city to charge a higher rate for water used by the irrigation system.

"It's a deterrent. If you are going to use water for irrigation, it's going to cost you more," said Ed Buchan, a water conservation specialist with Raleigh's Public Utilities Department.

The second meter also gives the city the ability to shut off an irrigation system remotely.

However, the city has no immediate plans to cut off water or raise rates, said Buchan.

City officials said the new law is intended to help cut down violations of Raleigh's four-week-old mandatory water restrictions on irrigation systems.

Some homeowners said they are irked equally by the new law and by violators of the water restrictions.

"Well, of course, I do not like the government interferring with anything like that, but I think if someone is brazen enough to run the system when they shouldn't run it, it should be cut off," said Bill Boss, a Raleigh homeowner.

As of Monday morning, code enforcers had issued citations to 334 violators, including nine second-time violators who also got a $50 fine.

"It (the second meter) provides us and the homeowner the ability to see just how much water they are using for irrigation," said Buchan.

Also on Monday, the U.S. Drought Monitor continued to classify the Falls Lake Watershed as being in a moderate drought.

Falls Lake stands at 249.10 feet, 2.4 feet below the level of a full water supply, said city officials. Rainfall for the area is also 3.37 inches below normal for the year to date, according to the National Weather Service.

Boss said the condition of his lawn shows that drought can beat human efforts to lessen its effects.

"My sprinkler system is doing its job, but Mother Nature is doing a better job," said Boss.