Local News

Raleigh Cracks Down on Water Hogs

Posted August 28, 2007 5:40 a.m. EDT
Updated August 28, 2007 4:56 p.m. EDT

— On the first day of tighter water conservation measures, Raleigh officials cited eight homeowners Tuesday for violations – each of which carries a $200 fine.

The city implemented Stage 1 water restrictions to cut into the area's seemingly unquenchable thirst for water in the face of a deepening drought across the state.

"These rules limit the way all of us use water," Mayor Charles Meeker said at a news conference to emphasize the need for the tougher rules.

Despite mandatory water restrictions put in place at the beginning of July, water use has spiked in recent weeks during a heat wave that sent temperatures soaring into triple digits for several days. On Aug. 9, Raleigh broke its record for one-day water consumption by using 77 million gallons.

The average daily consumption for August has been about 65 million gallons, and Meeker said he hopes the new restrictions will drop that to about 55 million gallons. Personal efforts to conserve water inside the house also would help cut daily consumption, he said.

"Whether it be shorter showers, only running dishwashers when they're full and otherwise conserving water, everyone understands the importance of this," Meeker said.

City officials will continue to monitor daily water consumption and levels at Falls Lake, the city's primary reservoir, in the coming weeks before determining whether even tougher regulations are needed, Meeker said.

One such year-round limit would be implementing water rates based on usage, he said.

"The question is how much of a rate change is required and how much of an effect it really has," he said.

The system's top five water users are North Carolina State University, state government offices, amino acid maker Ajinomoto USA, Wake County government offices and Pepsi Bottling Ventures, according to the Raleigh Public Utilities Department. Combined, they use more than 3.7 million gallons of water a day – more than the total alloted to customers in Rolesville and Zebulon.

The Stage 1 restrictions include the following:

  • Sprinkler systems can be used only between midnight and 10 a.m. on Tuesday (odd-number addresses) or Wednesday (even-number addresses).
  • Hoses with sprinklers can be used only from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesday (odd-number addresses) or Wednesday (even-number addresses).
  • Hand-held watering can be done on the same times and days as sprinklers, as well as during those times on Saturday (odd-number addresses) or Sunday (even-number addresses).
  • Cars can be washed only on weekends, although commercial car washes will be allowed to operate seven days a week.
  • Power-washing homes, sidewalks or driveways can be done only on weekends, although commercial services will be allowed to operate as normal.

"We're also restricting the hours on your assigned day, when you can irrigate and there's even a little differentiation on the method you use to irrigate with," Public Utilities Director Dale Crisp said.

The rules also apply to customers in Garner, Knightdale, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Wendell and Zebulon, all of which buy water from Raleigh.

City workers from various departments will be patrolling the streets to assist Raleigh's three code enforcement officers check for water scofflaws, said Ed Buchan, a water conservation specialist with the Public Utilities Department.

No more warnings will be given for violations, officials said. A first violation of the rules is a $200 fine and a second is $1,000. A third will result in water service being shut off.