Local News

Raleigh to Look at Tougher Water Rules

Posted October 8, 2007 12:47 p.m. EDT
Updated October 8, 2007 8:51 p.m. EDT

— City officials may soon consider tighter water restrictions in the face of the continuing drought, Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said Monday.

The City Council likely will address what Meeker called "Stage 1.5" water consumption limits at its meeting next week, he said.

Meeker said he would like to see a mix of regulations that would further limit residential consumption – such as banning all outdoor lawn-watering – but would not impact businesses as much as Stage 2 restrictions would.

Raleigh adopted Stage 1 water rules on Aug. 28, limiting outdoor watering to specified morning and evening hours one day a week – a hand-held hose is allowed on a second day – and restricting car-washing and the use of power washers by the general public.

The rules have reduced demand by 18 percent, to less than 55 million gallons on an average day.

"We're hoping to come down an additional 10 percent to under 50 million gallons a day, instead of the 55 million gallons it is currently," Meeker said.

Despite the reductions, the drought has continued to drain Falls Lake, the primary reservoir for Raleigh and several Wake County towns that buy water from the city. Lake levels are more than 7 feet below normal.

City Manager Russell Allen said the city plans to speak with the Army Corps of Engineers about releasing water into the Neuse River from other area lakes in order to reduce the water needed from Falls Lake. Downstream communities depend on the Neuse for water, as does wildlife.

"We think it's a good backup for us," Allen said. "It could buy us 45 days or so of water supply."

In a worst-case scenario, city leaders said, Raleigh would be out of water by the end of January.