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Pool Policy Making Waves With Durham Property Owners

Until late Friday afternoon, Durham city leaders would not issue permits to build swimming pools.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The drought and a dwindling water supply are causing a wave in Durham for property owners who want pools and for some businesses that build them.

"We have to take what some people would consider to be severe action," Durham City Councilman Eugene Brown said.

Until late Friday afternoon, Durham city leaders would not issue permits for new pools, saying it was something the city could not afford to do.

After WRAL started making phone calls, city leaders then announced that pools could be built, but could not be filled with water from any source – whether from within or outside the city or county.

Durham's initial policy of not issuing permits had some owners of pool businesses upset. Tara Onthank owns Rising Sun Pools and Spas. She considered suing the city for stopping her company from building pools.

"You can't restrict fair trade on an industry just because the end product holds water," she said earlier Friday.

Onthank said pools lose about 50 gallons of water from evaporation each month. She had questioned why the city would not allow them to build pools and bring in the water from another source.

City leaders said pools are continually refilled and there's no way for them to check every time where the water comes from.

"We're quite miffed," Onthank said. "It's a misunderstood industry. People hear 'pool.' The end product holds water. They assume you're going to be using water."

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