Local News

Data Supports Call for Stricter Water Rules

Posted October 9, 2007 5:40 p.m. EDT
Updated October 9, 2007 6:55 p.m. EDT

— City residents are consuming 35 percent more water on days when lawn watering is allowed than on other days, officials said Tuesday.

The data backs up Mayor Charles Meeker's suggestion that the city ban outdoor residential water use to conserve water, City Manager Russell Allen said Tuesday.

Meeker on Monday said the city might need to adopt "Stage 1.5" restrictions that would limit residential water consumption without adversely affecting businesses like car washes and power-washing services.

Stage 1 water restrictions limit homeowners to specified hours of using sprinklers or automatic irrigation systems on one day a week. Since the city implemented the restrictions on Aug. 28, water demand has dropped 18 percent.

But the ongoing drought has left Falls Lake, the city's primary reservoir, more than 7½ feet below normal levels. The lake is less than 2 feet above its all-time low level, reached in November 1993.

A report from the Army Corps of Engineers, which manages Falls Lake, said the city pumps more than 67 million gallons of water from the lake on Tuesdays and Wednesdays – the two days when outdoor watering is allowed – compared with about 49 million gallons a day on other days of the week.

Allen said the city could prolong the available water supply at Falls Lake by eliminating outdoor watering. Without any rain in the coming months, the lake would run dry on Jan. 24, officials said.

The City Council could address tighter restrictions at its meeting next week.