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New Durham Water Restrictions Could Limit Watering, Business Use

City leaders could decide Tuesday to implement tighter water restrictions. Businesses would be required to cut use in half.

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DURHAM, N.C. — Durham city leaders are considering tightening water restrictions to call for all businesses to rein in use by at least 50 percent.

Water Management officials met with City Manager Patrick W. Baker on Monday morning and recommended moving to Stage 4 severe mandatory conservation measures. Baker will likely announce the move on Tuesday unless rain provides significant drought relief overnight.

The new restrictions would become effective Monday, Dec. 3. Durham last increased its water regulations on Oct. 16, limiting outdoor to one day a week.

As of Sunday, Durham had a 59-day supply of water in the Lake Michie and Little River reservoirs.

Stage 4 restrictions would outright ban all watering and sprinkling of lawns, grass, trees, golf greens and flowers. The ordinance allows commercial growers to use "the minimal amount for survival" of their plants.

Watering vegetable gardens and ornamental shrubs would be permitted if a person used a hand-held hose, container or drip-irrigation system. That watering could only be done between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. or 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays. A person could water only once during those days.

The ordinance orders all industrial, manufacturing and commercial enterprises to reduce consumption by 50 percent. Managers must document their efforts to reach that goal.

Most commercial and private vehicle washing would also be banned. Car washes that can prove they recycle at least 50 percent of their water would be allowed to operate.

Stage 4 restrictions also prohibit customers from:

  • Making nonessential use of water for commercial or public use.
  • Operating water-cooled air conditioners or other equipment that does not recycle cooling water, except when health and safety are adversely affected.

Baker would retain the authority to issue licenses to allow any customer to use water in ways contrary to Stage 4 restrictions. To get such licenses, however, customers would have to demonstrate that the license will result in a 50 percent or more reduction of their overall use.

The city director of environmental resources has the authority to disconnect water service to any customer that violates the restrictions. The director must give 24-hour written warning for the customer to end the violation.


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