12/18/05 — Water levels up, but residents asked to conserve

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Water levels up, but residents asked to conserve

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on December 18, 2005 2:06 AM


Heavy rains have saturated much of central North Carolina over the past few weeks, but local officials say water conservation is still necessary -- at least for now.

After more than two months of drought conditions upstream and here in Wayne County, Goldsboro Public Utilities Director Karen Brashear said levels at the Neuse River intake are beginning to return to normal.

"I think we have some cautious optimism." she said.

Mrs. Brashear said Friday current levels at the Neuse measure just above 52 feet Mean Sea Level. According to the city's Water Shortage Response Ordin-ance, once levels rise above 52 feet MSL, the need for voluntary conservation of water is no longer pressing.

Mrs. Brashear said, however, the current measurement might be deceiving, a result of recent heavy rains, and that she expects the levels to fall back under that 52-foot trigger within the next few days.

"It's a very good sign that we are resuming a normal weather pattern," she said. "But as far as lifting voluntary conservation, I think it's a bit premature for that."

Mayor Al King declared voluntary conservation of water Oct. 3 at a City Council meeting. Since that meeting, he and other city officials have kept a close eye on levels at the Neuse as well as conditions upstream.

"The good news is that the deficit in the Raleigh area is decreasing," Mrs. Brashear said. "As things look better upstream, they look better for us."

Mandatory restrictions were lifted by Durham County officials after more than five weeks Thursday, and Wake County drought conditions moved from abnormally dry to moderate, according to the North Carolina Drought Management Advis-ory Council.

For now, voluntary conservation is still in effect for Goldsboro residents.

Under voluntary conservation, officials ask that residents take showers instead of baths, turn off water while brushing teeth and washing dishes, reduce lawn and garden watering and limit toilet flushes.

Mrs. Brashear added continuing conservation, when combined with improving conditions, will both increase the chance of a return to normalcy at the Neuse and help prepare for potential drought next summer.

"If we do resume a more normal pattern, things are going to be looking a lot better for next summer," she said.