Local News

Raleigh Sets Conditions for Easing Water Rules

Posted March 18, 2008 2:06 p.m. EDT
Updated March 19, 2008 9:27 a.m. EDT

— The City Council voted Tuesday to end Stage 2 water restrictions once Falls Lake reaches 90 percent of its normal level and to allow limited outdoor watering if the lake reaches its capacity.

The city's primary reservoir, Falls Lake was about 74 percent of its normal level Tuesday, holding 10.8 billion gallons. When full, the lake holds 14.6 billion gallons.

The city imposed Stage 2 restrictions on Feb. 15, preventing the use of municipal water for outdoor irrigation and pressure washing. The rules also shut down car washes that didn't meet city conservation standards and called on restaurants and hotels to cut back on their water consumption.

Since then, daily water use by Raleigh and six area towns on the municipal system has dropped by about 5 percent, from 40.3 million to 38.3 million gallons a day, officials said.

But the Stage 2 restrictions have adversely affected businesses like landscapers and power-washers, and Mayor Charles Meeker said he wanted to ease some rules on hard-hit businesses after recent rains helped replenish Falls Lake.

After hovering around 8 feet below normal for much of the year, the lake is now just over 2 feet below normal. The available drinking water should last through at least Dec. 27, officials said.

The City Council gave City Manager Russell Allen the authority to lift Stage 2 restrictions once Falls Lake reaches 13.2 billion gallons. The move would primarily affect businesses, although residents could once again use hand-held hoses to water their lawns, shrubs and flowers.

If spring rains completely replenish Falls Lake, municipal water customers could return to using sprinklers twice a week under the Stage 1 rules that were in effect from last August until October.