Local News

Major Water Users Discuss Water Conservation Campaign

Posted February 20, 2008 11:18 p.m. EST
Updated October 21, 2011 2:16 p.m. EDT

— The city of Raleigh got together with major water users Wednesday night to work on a plan to save every drop they can of what is rapidly becoming a precious commodity.

Since Stage 2 water restrictions went into effect last Friday, Raleigh’s water demand has dropped by about 1 million gallons a day. As Falls Lake, Raleigh's primary water source, continues to drop, however, the City Council is looking at Stage 3 restrictions.

The prospect of tougher restrictions has business owners worried and looking for ways to conserve without cutting into profits.

"We intend to work with the city of Raleigh and this community with whatever measures are necessary for conservation,” Pepsi Vice President of Operations Matthew Bucherati said.

At the Pepsi Bottling Plant in Raleigh, water is the main ingredient. Pepsi was one of the businesses invited to the city's first Water Conservation Council meeting.

The group discussed plans for a TV public service announcement featuring a local celebrity urging people to conserve water, but some people said they fear that will not be enough.

“The biggest concern is we're not very well prepared to go beyond the kinds of conservation measures that are being asked for now,” said Dr. David Moreau with the Water Resources Research Institute.

Falls Lake is about 8 feet below normal levels. Officials have said it has enough drinking water to last at least through June 17 if conditions do not change.

"Obviously, we are looking at every scenario – worst and best case(s),” said City Council Member Nancy McFarlane.

Stage 2 restrictions banned outdoor watering and pressure-washing, closed car washes that don't recycle water and required restaurants and hotels to cut back on water use.

Ideas on the table for Stage 3, which has never been defined, include requiring restaurants to use disposable plates and requiring businesses to place containers of hand sanitizer in public restrooms to cut down on hand washing. Also, exemptions in Stage 2 regulations, such as allowing car washes that recycle water to remain open, could be eliminated under tougher rules.

"Hopefully we will get relief, but on the other hand we should be prepared to deal with the worst case," Moreau said.

The Water Conservation Council plans to develop a message about conservation at its next meeting.