Local News

Private Company Tightens Water Restrictions

Posted August 21, 2007 12:34 a.m. EDT
Updated August 21, 2007 12:37 a.m. EDT

— Thousands of residents in northern Wake County face tighter, new water restrictions - but not from their local or state government.

Aqua North Carolina, a private water company operating in 46 North Carolina counties, sent out letters to 3,800 customers in the Bayleaf community announcing the new restrictions would be enforced from Monday night.

The utility company received permission from the state to restrict lawn watering to twice a week for three hours each night. Customers will be allowed to water their lawns between midnight and 3 a.m. up to two times a week.

Those new restrictions have some Bayleaf residents concerned.

"Everybody has spent a great deal of money in these yards and landscaping, and now a lot of it's going to be pretty much damaged beyond repair," Ken Edwards, an Aqua North Carolina customer, said.

Demand from the neighborhood has been so high that the company has been forced to tap into storage tanks to keep the water flowing, Thomas Roberts, president of Aqua North Carolina said.

On average, customers in the neighborhood use 156,000 gallons of water each hour, enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool, company officials said.

Residents said they've seen evidence of the strain that high demand has placed on their water system.

"You can sometimes get a dribble in the shower. The pressure goes down that low," Edwards said.

The new restrictions are intended to curb that demand and ensure that there's enough water to go around, Roberts said.

"The customers hold their destiny in their hands. If they are wise with irrigation practices, there will be plenty of water for domestic use," Roberts said.

The company plans to warn violators after a first offense, and then shut off their water after a second violation, Roberts said.

Under state law, private utilities must get permission from the North Carolina Utilities Commission before shutting off service to a customer.

The restrictions permits lawn irrigation at odd-numbered addresses on Wednesday and Friday and at even-numbered addresses on Tuesday and Thursday. No irrigation is permitted on Saturday, Sunday or Monday, but hand watering is allowed at all times.

Aqua North Carolina plans to end the restrictions by December.

Edwards said faced with those choices, he's already shut off his lawn irrigation system.

"There's a part of me that says I have to water my yard, but there's a part of me that says I also need water to take a shower and cook with, too," Edwards said.