Local News

Raleigh water usage on the rise

Posted June 16, 2008 5:56 p.m. EDT
Updated June 16, 2008 11:28 p.m. EDT

— Water usage is down 10 to 20 percent from a year ago, city officials say, but up to more than 50 percent from four months ago when the city was in extreme drought conditions.

"We had a 66-million gallon day last week," Ed Buchan, water conservation specialist with Raleigh's Public Utilities Department, said.

At the height of the city's mandatory water restrictions, water use averaged 38 million gallons a day. About 56 million gallons were used last Monday. Days when outdoor watering is allowed cause the usage to increase more.

Increased temperatures seem to be causing the increase in usage, Buchan said. People tend to bathe more, do more laundry and attempt to bring the lawns back to life.

Falls Lake, Raleigh's main source for water, is just below the normal limit at 251.5 feet at 251.21 feet.

But Buchan said the area is still in moderate drought conditions and inflows to the lake have been low.

"When that's the case, it doesn't just barely come down, it starts to come down fairly quickly, especially with the high rate of evaporation right now," Buchan said.

Mandatory water conservation measures are in place, and the city is enforcing them. More than 50 people have been fined for violating the State I restrictions, which permit city water customers to irrigate their lawns two days a week.

More than 50 homeowners have been fined – half for irrigating on the days not allowed.

"We'll get a lot of people," Buchan said. "We do respond to citizen complaints, and we find out the location and times and things like that, no matter if it's at night. We'll make an effort to be there."

Under the current conservation measures, sprinklers are allowed on Tuesdays and Saturdays for odd-numbered addresses. Even-numbered addresses can use them Wednesdays and Sundays. Automatic irrigation systems can be used between midnight and 10 a.m. Hose-end sprinklers are allowed from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 6 p.m. to 10pm.

Watering with a handheld hose is allowed anytime.