Local News

Amid Drought, High-Dollar Homeowners Still Watering Lawns

Posted October 2, 2007 11:09 p.m. EDT
Updated October 3, 2007 8:37 a.m. EDT

— Raleigh's water supply continues to shrink, but that hasn't stopped residents in some pricey neighborhoods from watering their lawns.

Almost 270 citations have been handed out – six have been issued for repeat offenders – since the Stage 1 water restrictions went into effect Aug. 28.

According to a list obtained by WRAL, most of the violators live in new subdivisions with high-priced homes.

"I would not be happy with those people,” homeowner James Earp said.

Bedford at Falls River, Brier Creek and Heritage Wake Forest are home to many of the water violators. At least two dozen homeowners were cited in the Heritage subdivision.

“I think a lot of people are from out of town and just moved in and they don't have a clue,” said Eileen Wires, a Heritage homeowner.

“A lot of them, especially the older folks that move in, do not know how to operate their sprinkler systems,” said Gary Wires, another Heritage homeowner.

On Bedfordtown Drive, the city issued six citations. One homeowner was cited twice, bringing $1,200 in fines.

“The people here, maybe the ones that are violating, might feel that they can afford the additional cost of the water a lot more than some other areas,” Earp said.

The Stage 1 water restrictions apply to all Raleigh water customers, including those in Garner, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Knightdale, Wendell and Zebulon.

Stage 1 restrictions include:

  • Using sprinkler systems only between midnight and 10 a.m. on Tuesdays (odd-number addresses) or Wednesdays (even-number addresses).
  • Using hoses with sprinklers only from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesdays (odd-number addresses) or Wednesdays (even-number addresses).
  • Hand-held watering on the same times and days as sprinklers, as well as during those hours on Saturdays (odd-number addresses) or Sundays (even-number addresses).
  • Washing cars only on weekends, although commercial car washes can operate seven days a week.
  • Power-washing homes, sidewalks or driveways only on weekends, although commercial services can operate as normal.

A first violation is a $200 fine and a second is $1,000. A third violation results in water service being shut off.

Since the Stage 1 restrictions went into effect, consumption has dropped 18 percent. Customers use about 54.4 million gallons of water on an average day, down about 1 million gallons from the 30-day average.

But despite the lower demand, the water supply continues to dry up. Officials said in the worst-case scenario of no rain, Raleigh's primary reservoir, Falls Lake, will hit  its safe-pumping limit on Jan. 23. The lake level fell by more than 6 inches last week, and is now more than 7 feet below normal.