Local News

Raleigh's Biggest Water Customers Cutting Back

Posted February 5, 2008 11:52 p.m. EST
Updated February 6, 2008 8:21 a.m. EST

— The Raleigh City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to move to Stage 2 water restrictions on Feb. 15. The decision came as council members heard more about the conservation efforts of major water users.

North Carolina State University; city, county and state government offices and several businesses have eliminated outdoor irrigation, stopped washing vehicles, cut back hours of operation, plugged leaks and adjusted processes to save millions of gallons of water each week, officials said.

"It seems like everything that we do requires some sort of water,” WakeMed spokeswoman Debra Laughery said.

Starting with the toilets, WakeMed has cut back on water use.

"We've installed over 400 new low-flush handles where you go up if it's clear and down if it's not," Laughery said.

The hospital has also stopped watering its landscape and installed low-flow shower heads.

Less water is also flowing out of the showers at North Carolina State University. NCSU spokesman Keith Nichols said all residence halls were recently outfitted with low-flow shower heads.

"Since July 2007, we've saved about 57 million gallons of water," Nichols said.

NCSU is home to more than 30,000 students, staff and faculty.  With Raleigh's main water supply, Falls Lake, dwindling, the school has also launched a "water-saving challenge" with students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"We all need to do something to make sure we can, pardon the expression – weather the drought," Nichols said.

Some major users also expressed interest in tapping into a proposed city system to recycle treated wastewater for irrigation, air conditioning and other outdoor uses.

The city has refused to release just how much water commercial and industrial customers use, citing privacy. Collectively though, industrial customers, like Pepsi Bottling Ventures, use an average of 243 times what the average house uses per day.

Other companies that made Raleigh's major water-users list are: Ajinomoto, Alsco, Cargill, Covidien, Glaxo Smith Kline, City of Raleigh, State of North Carolina, Suntronics and Wake County.

The Stage 2 restrictions would have automatically come into effect if Raleigh's water supply dipped to 90 days, but with the supply in Falls Lake predicted to last until mid-May, Mayor Charles Meeker said he decided to push for tighter restrictions sooner. For more on Stage 2 restrictions, click here.