11/21/05 — City could add more punch to water use rules

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City could add more punch to water use rules

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on November 21, 2005 1:49 PM

Raindrops have been a more frequent sight in Goldsboro lately, but city officials say they are still concerned about low water levels at the Neuse River intake.

Today, while they review the latest facts and figures, officials say a proposed change in policy should help increase awareness in the community and better prepare city officials to deal with drought conditions in the future.

Goldsboro public utilities director Karen Brashear said a revised copy of the city's water shortage response ordinance will be brought before City Council for approval tonight.

The new ordinance will be similar to the current one, she said, with a few minor changes.

Under guidelines included in the current ordinance, decisions regarding water conservation are made solely on measurements from the intake, also called triggers. For example, when the level reaches its trigger of 52 feet, voluntary conservation is enforced.

The new guidelines use different language, which Mrs. Brashear said avoids the limitations of the original and allows officials to go into different phases of conservation based on more than the water levels alone.

"We need the ability to make decisions based on factors other than water level," she said.

Currently, the water level at the Neuse is 51 feet, only one foot above measurements that would provoke an order of mandatory water conservation from Mayor Al King.

Mrs. Brashear said that while levels have not yet reached the trigger for mandatory conservation (50 feet), she has received information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers indicating water levels at the intake could drop significantly by the end of the day today.

Mrs. Brashear added that if the levels do decrease by tonight's council meeting and the new ordinance is approved, she will recommend the declaration of mandatory conservation of water.

Under mandatory conservation, the city regulates the use of water for both residents and businesses and imposes fines on those who violate restrictions.