Local News

New Chatham County Restrictions to Hit Residents, Car Washes, Firefighting

Posted October 22, 2007 4:35 p.m. EDT
Updated October 22, 2007 9:17 p.m. EDT

— New restrictions issued by Chatham County on Monday will impact the way residents, car washes and fire departments use water, beginning next week.

Under what are known as Stage 3-B limits, county water customers will be banned from using all types of outdoor irrigation systems after next Monday. Watering by hand in urgent situations is permitted, but the county urged people to use private well water or recycled water. Water can be caught in rain buckets or bathtubs while the shower is running, county officials said.

Commercial car washes using county water were ordered to cease operation until further notice. Under Stage 2 restrictions, residents already had been banned from washing vehicles at home.

Fire departments were instructed to use raw water in place of county water whenever possible.

The upgraded Stage 3-B restrictions take effect on Oct. 29 and apply primarily to customers in northeastern Chatham County, who are served by Jordan Lake.

"I know that this ban represents a serious hardship for many people, and we do not take this lightly," County Manager Charlie Horne said. "However, we are at the point that we have no choice but to take action to protect our limited water resources as best we can."

Levels at Jordan Lake are nearly 6 feet below normal, and the U.S. Drought Monitor placed Chatham County in the highest drought category two weeks ago.

"Many communities across the state are in the same boat, and many are in worse shape," Horne said. "Much of our state, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia are in severe drought conditions, which means that we are not likely to get help from surrounding areas."

No warnings will be issued for violating Stage 3-B restrictions. A first violation will bring a $250 fine, and a second one a $500 penalty. For a third violation, the county will shut off the offender's water service.

Chatham County restrictions do not apply to customers on municipal systems, including Siler City and Cary. However, those customers must follow restrictions imposed by local authorities.

Stage 3-B restrictions also stipulate:

  • Filling or refilling any swimming or wading pools, ponds, fountains or similar items is banned. Customers cannot add even small amounts of water to bring these up to normal levels.
  • County water cannot be used to wash outside areas, including building exteriors, streets, driveways, decks, parking lots, service station aprons, patios or other impervious surfaces.
  • Water-cooled or other equipment that does not recycle cooling water can be operated only when health and safety are impacted.
  • Fire hydrants are to be used only for putting out fires or other public emergencies.
  • Customers should not use water for dust control or to compact soil.
  • Customers should avoid any activities that waste county water supplies.