09/25/07 — Water use decreases in Goldsboro

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Water use decreases in Goldsboro

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on September 25, 2007 1:55 PM

Mandatory water conservation has been underway for a week in Goldsboro, and city residents, in general, must be heeding the measures because consumption is down.

In the last three days, city officials said that water consumption has reduced by a "fairly good amount."

Public Utilities Director Karen Brashear said the decrease is about 15 percent.

"It looks like people are pitching in to help, and it is much appreciated," she said.

But there have been some who have not gotten the message, and warnings have been issued.

Code Enforcement Officer George Wohlgemuth said that there have been six total warnings but no fines as of yet.

Three large businesses were among the violators for not cutting down on water consumption.

Jameson Inn was warned Friday, Sonic on Saturday and Verizon Wireless Monday morning.

Wohlgemuth said that the enforcement officers are watching all businesses across the board.

"Small or large, it doesn't make a difference to us," he said.

The top five water consumers of city water are Case Farms, Wayne Memorial Hospital, Cherry Hospital, O' Berry Center and GAF Materials Corp., according to the city's August water bills.

City officials said that it is difficult for hospitals to cut down on consumption because it may pose a health risk if they do so.

None of the top five have been warned, but several other commercial property owners have.

Zoning Enforcement Officer Melvin Artis said that he gave out written warnings to three locations on Berkeley Boulevard this weekend that were holding car washes.

The car washers, he said, were school groups or organizations that were raising money, but he didn't speak to the students.

He went straight to the property owners, he said.

"Once I explained the situation, they were more than willing to cease," he said. "One had already stopped before I got there."

Artis said he believes most people will cooperate once they realize how drastic the drought is.

"A lot of times, water conservation doesn't hit home until you talk about not having water to drink or take a shower with or brush your teeth with," he said.

But some people have a safeguard against violations -- a well.

Artis said the enforcement officers are still getting calls about signs that indicate that a resident uses a well instead of public water to prevent them from being ticketed.

There have been about 250 requests for signs so far, officials said, and they are trying to get out to 50 houses a day.

Code Enforcement Officer Kelly Best said it takes time to get all of the signs together and placed in yards.

"We have people even calling in for their neighbors," she said.

Artis said he hasn't seen many residents violating the conservation measures, but he said others have. And they hear about it all the same.

"We have had some people to call in and say that they notice people are watering their lawns or washing their building or something of that nature," he said. "We are trying to let everyone (on public water) know that they shouldn't do that."

What about those businesses that provide services that go against the water conservation measures?

Artis said that there are some avenues they can take.

"In this phase, commercial businesses have a little leeway," he said. "(Pressure washing businesses and others like it) can call the water treatment plant to get some water that has been reclaimed."

He added that businesses who do so can be easily verified.

City officials are urging everyone to conserve, whether they use public water or a well.

If public water consumption does not decrease to a level that the city finds acceptable, fines and penalties may increase, they said.