Local News

Falls Lake falls back below normal

Posted June 18, 2008 12:15 a.m. EDT
Updated March 7, 2010 4:38 p.m. EST

— Falls Lake has dipped below normal for the first time since recovering from its record deficit on April 5, 2008. The lake currently stands at 251.24 feet, which is approximately 3 inches below full. In response, a Raleigh City Council member has suggested tougher water restrictions, but the mayor disagreed.

"In the summer, the lake does fall below full pool,” Ed Buchan, water conservation specialist with Raleigh's Public Utilities Department, said.

The U.S. Drought Monitor reclassified all of Wake County in the moderate drought category last week. The rainfall deficit for 2007 was 7.2 inches, giving a shortfall of 9.45 inches since Jan. 1, 2007.

Do we need "to address this report from the city manager about the lake levels or not?" Councilman Rodger Koopman asked during a Tuesday night City Council meeting.

Mayor Charles Meeker said the discussion was not necessary.

"It really isn't time to be talking about tougher (water) restrictions," Meeker said.

Raleigh water customers can only irrigate two days a week. Odd-numbered property addresses are permitted to irrigate on Tuesdays and Saturdays, while even-numbered property addresses may do so on Wednesdays and Sundays. The restriction has caused a nearly 20-percent drop in water use over this time last year.

Meeker said new measures should not be necessary unless lake levels drop around 30-percent.

Koopman doesn't think the city can wait that long.

"I am already seeing this trend line following the exact same trend line we had last year, which goes all the way down until we are out of the reserve pool," Koopman said.

Buchan with Raleigh Utilities said dipping below full is normal this time of year, but "we never fully recovered from last year's drought."

Although some rainfall is forecasted for the weekend, it is not expected to be significant. Below normal rainfall is anticipated for next 10 days, with only scattered showers predicted.

The Water Conservation Advisory Council meets Wednesday to talk about water restrictions. They said the best thing Raleigh residents can do in the meantime is continue to conserve.