10/09/07 — Water use rules keep shortage in check

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Water use rules keep shortage in check

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on October 9, 2007 1:45 PM

Goldsboro city water hasn't dried up yet, but officials are warning that conservation is not a luxury -- it is a necessity if residents want to stay out of extreme drought and much-stricter regulations.

If rain continues to fall, and residents continue to conserve, water levels should remain low, but manageable, officials said.

So far this month, water consumption numbers are down 11 percent, compared to the early part of September before city officials declared mandatory conservation, Public Utilities director Karen Brashear said.

"Residents have reduced water consumption by about 1 million gallons per day," City Manager Joe Huffman said at the Oct. 1 Goldsboro City Council meeting.

City officials said they appreciate residents cutting down and pitching in to help keep water available for everyone linked to the city system. Sometimes, they do not realize how much even small conservation efforts can help in the long run. Simple actions like shutting off the water while brushing your teeth add up, Mrs. Brashear said.

She added that residents should look at the city's Web site where there are 40 items listed that will help with conservation efforts.

"It appears that citizens are making an effort to conserve water, but as the drought continues, more reductions are necessary," she said.

She is hoping that people will conserve even more in months to come.

"These unusually hot days continue to affect the outdoor water use," she said. "I expect that as soon as the weather cools off, the water consumption will continue to drop."

With temperatures decreasing as early as Thursday, citizens might heed her suggestions.

Some, on the other hand, still haven't gotten the message.

There have been a total of 14 warnings issued, code enforcement officer George Wohlgemuth said, which is up from the six reported by Sept. 25. No fines have been assessed.

"People are adhering to the conservation measures more than I thought they would," he said. "Most of the people have cooperated."

Others, who are not under the city water system, aren't as cooperative.

Many of the residents in the newly annexed areas of the city do have wells, but a small amount of people actually have the signs stating so.

"It is my impression of all the annexed areas that are prominently in the Berkeley (Boulevard) area, I'm seeing almost 90 percent of saturation as evidence of wells," he said.

The problem is that people in those areas are not taking the time to call the city's code enforcement officials, he added.

"There's an overwhelming number of people that haven't called," he said. "They won't take the 20 minutes to do it."

But he said he foresees a change soon.

"We hope there will be another couple hundred people that call in and let us know they have a well," he said.

He added that city workers have almost all of the signs put in place that were requested, but he said he believes they have just covered "the tip of the iceberg."

Wohlgemuth and other city officials encourage those with wells from all over the city to call Code Enforcement at 580-4312.

But even with those signs and a decrease of consumption, city officials realize that they aren't out of the red yet.

"Citizens need to be prepared that we may run out of water eventually," Huffman said.

Mrs. Brashear said the city's water is expected to last until the beginning of 2008.

"Assuming that no significant rainfall occurs, the (Army) Corps of Engineers expect to have water in Falls Lake until the first part of January, though they do expect rain between now and January which will help replenish the water in the lake," she said.