Local News

6 Cited for Breaking Stiffer Water Rules

Posted February 15, 2008 7:34 a.m. EST
Updated February 15, 2008 8:24 p.m. EST

— City inspectors cited six individuals and businesses for violating the Stage 2 water restrictions that went into effect Friday.

The violators included a man caught washing his car and a car wash that was operating without a city-certified system to recycle its water.

The Stage 2 restrictions – the toughest rules currently on the books in Raleigh – ban outdoor watering and pressure washing and require car washes to use recycled water. Also, restaurants can no longer serve water to customers who don't ask for it, and hotels are asking guests to reuse linens to cut down on laundry.

First-time violators face a $1,000 fine, and repeat violations could lead to a shut-off of water service.

Sixty car washes in Raleigh and the six area towns served by the city water system have been certified and are allowed to operate under the Stage 2 rules, said Ed Buchan, water conservation specialist with the city's Public Utilities Department.

Suds Car-Washing Detail is among the car washes that can remain open because it recycles its water.

"It's good for us, but again, I don't like to benefit off someone else's misfortune. It is what it is," Suds' owner Frederick Gardner said.

Steve Byers said he fears closing the car wash outside his Lake Wheeler Road convenience store will cut into his customer traffic.

"It's going to have a little more impact than just the car washes being down," Byers said.

William Page, who owns a pressure-washing company, is tapping private wells and using treated wastewater to stay in business.

"I can't hook up to a garden hose at someone's house, but I can bring my own water," Page said. "It's cut down my workload by 30 percent, but I can still wash."

Stage 2 restrictions are expected to conserve 2 million to 5 million gallons a day. Falls Lake, the city's primary reservoir, has enough drinking water to last through the end of May, officials said, and cutting daily demand could extend that.

Buchan said local homeowners would see little difference between previous regulations and the Stage 2 rules.

"The main thing is going to be you cannot use the hand-held hose outside anymore," he said.

Also under the new rules, all building permits in Raleigh will be stamped "construction only," allowing construction to proceed but blocking the sale or rental of any unit. An exception will be made if a developer can find tanker trucks to capture the water used to flush water lines before occupancy and haul it back to Falls Lake or the city water-treatment plant.