Local News

Communities Grapple With Shrinking Water Supplies

Posted September 27, 2007 6:54 p.m. EDT
Updated September 27, 2007 6:56 p.m. EDT

— Area communities are implementing different methods to deal with shrinking water supplies amid a drought to which state officials said Thursday they saw no end.

Rocky Mount's main water supply, the Tar River Reservoir, is below half capacity, and levels are still dropping.

The city is working on a plan to buy water from Wilson, which has a much larger supply in the Buckhorn Reservoir.

In the meantime, Rocky Mount moved to Stage 2 water restrictions for residential communities last Monday. Additional restrictions requiring large-use businesses to cut consumption by 10 percent will go into effect from next Monday, Oct. 1.

From Monday, Orange County water customers will face a new rate structure that charges more for using large volumes of water. Instead of a flat rate, rates will vary, so that the more customers use, the more they'll pay.

The change applies to residences that have their own water meters. The typical househould will see about a 7 percent increase if its water use remains the same, officials said.

Lee County officials are urging customers to voluntarily conserve, while saying their water supply remains in "good shape."

"Jordan Lake is required to release a certain amount of water supply downstream," Tim Shaw, operations manager for Sanford Public Works, said.

While county enviromental officials said they've not received many reports of wells going dry, they cautioned well-users to also conserve. It's more difficult to refill a well, than a reservoir or a river, officials said.

"It is incumbent upon us to save water where and when we can," Eric Griffin, director of Lee County Emergency Management, said. "A simple rain is not going to fix our situation. In, fact a tropical storm will not replenish the groundwater table much.

"It is time for us to conserve and maintain conservation practices, even during times of plentiful rain."