Local News

Lawn Watering Leads to Spikes in Demand

Posted September 13, 2007 6:02 p.m. EDT
Updated September 13, 2007 6:56 p.m. EDT

— Despite repeated warnings, almost 200 homeowners have been cited for violating Raleigh's water restrictions in the last three weeks. Three have been caught twice, meaning they're on the hook for $1,200 in fines.

Two of the repeat violators are in the Bedford at Falls River subdivision off Falls of Neuse Road in north Raleigh. The third is in Garner.

Residents have been so eager to report sprinkler scofflaws that they have clogged up 911 lines, officials said, adding that non-emergency lines should be used.

The Stage 1 water restrictions implemented on Aug. 28 have cut the average daily demand by about 13 percent, said Dale Crisp, Raleigh's public utilities director.

"We are pleased we have done the reduction. It would have been great had we been able to achieve the 20 percent reduction the governor was calling for statewide," Crisp said, adding there are no plans to implement even stricter water limits in the near future.

But consumption continues to spike on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the only days residents are allowed to use sprinklers on their lawns, he said. Almost 30 percent of water used on those days is going to lawns, he said.

The average daily demand on non-watering days is about 50 million gallons, but that demand rises to about 70 million gallons on watering days, officials said.

"I think they are probably putting out as much as they can during that period of time," said Charles Peacock, a professor of crop science at North Carolina State University.

Because they have only one chance per week to water, many homeowners are overwatering, Peacock said. He suggested people measure the amount of water dispensed by their sprinkler or automated system and cut it off after the lawn has received an inch of water.

Even with the cutbacks, homeowner John Garrett said he thinks people in Raleigh use too much water on their lawns.

"I think that's too much, especially with no prognosis of anything coming" in terms of rain, Garrett said.