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Cary gets creative with water conservation

Cary is implementing four new conservation programs in an effort to get homeowners to save water.

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CARY, N.C. — Cary is implementing new conservation programs in an effort to get homeowners to save water.

"I find that most people think that plants need a lot more water than they do,” said Keith Ramsey, with Cary Garden Supply.

The same goes for certain types of grass. Warm-season grass needs a lot less water to survive and that got the town of Cary's attention.

Homeowners who rip out at least 1,000 square feet of fescue and replace it with warm-season grass will get $500. It is just one of four incentives to getting citizens to conserve water.

“Over the course of this summer and throughout this drought, we certainly have had plenty of requests for these types of programs,” said Marie Cefalo, water conservation coordinator for Cary.

If 200 homeowners took part in warm-season grass program, Cary officials estimate it would save about 800,000 gallons of water per year based on six months of irrigation.

Another conservation program gives builders a deal. The town will reduce fees by 21 percent when warm-season grass is planted at a new home development. If 50 new homes per month take advantage of the incentive, town officials estimate Cary will save 9 million gallons of water over the course of a year.

New rain barrels cost around $87. Cary is urging residents make a barrel, from a kit, for a lot less money.

“It's just a low-cost alternative,” Cefalo said.

The fourth program helps citizens who have homes built before 1992. If the house has not been remodeled, it probably has a 3.5-gallon-per-flush toilet. Residents can turn in older toilets and get a rebate toward a high-efficiency toilet that uses 1.3 gallons per flush.

If 400 toilets were replaced every year, town officials estimate Cary would save as much as 2.6 million gallons of water.

Cefalo said the town still needs to work out the specific requirements for each conservation program.

Jordan Lake is Cary's primary source of drinking water. The town uses  about 10 million gallons a day.

Cary has had fewer water restrictions than other surrounding areas during the recent drought.

The town's outdoor sprinkling ban is scheduled to continue until March 31.

The ban doesn't apply to homes and businesses that use reclaimed water or people who irrigate with wells or from lakes, town officials said. Watering by hand, pressure-washing, and car washing are still allowed any day of the week.