10/24/07 — Other towns ponder water restrictions

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Other towns ponder water restrictions

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on October 24, 2007 2:22 PM

With the Village of Walnut Creek and the city of Goldsboro already having implemented mandatory water conservation measures, and Gov. Mike Easley calling on the state to cut its usage in half by Halloween, the town of Mount Olive has begun to look at putting its own restrictions in place, while other towns have not made decisions as of yet.

Currently, explained town manager Charles Brown, they are asking residents to take voluntary steps to conserve water, but have not required them to.

He expects that to change at the next town Board of Commissioners meeting on Nov. 8.

Still in the process of developing the proposed resolution, he said it's likely to primarily target outdoor water use, except at commercial establishments.

"We don't want to put car washes, pressure washers, those who water plants at nurseries out of business," he said.

He explained that the town can save a lot of water if people will just stop using their automatic irrigation systems, especially now that summer's over.

"Those (systems) can use nearly 50,000 gallons a month, and that's just on an average size yard," Brown said. "Based on average use rates, that's enough for 10 families for a month."

Fortunately, he continued, Mount Olive is not faced with a severe shortage right now because its main sources of water are underground acquifers, accessed by deep water wells. But, he added, now is the time to be pro-active.

"Our opinion is the time to take action is before you're in an emergency and get people used to the idea of conserving water. What we're trying to do is look 10 to 15 years down the road," he said.

His only concern, though, is that by making usage cuts mandatory, the town runs the risk of cutting revenues it needs to pay on the bonds and loans that were used to help pay for the construction of the system.

"Water revenues are a big source of income for small towns," Brown said. "If you cut usage by 50 percent, you cut revenues by 50 percent, and I don't know how realistic it is to say you need to cut your water usage by 50 percent overnight.

"You can head in that direction and we want to do everything we can in that direction, but somewhere there has to be a happy medium because unfortunately, our costs don't get cut."

Fremont, Pikeville and Eureka have not implemented mandatory conservation measures and plan not to do so until Wayne Water Districts makes a decision on its usage regulations.

That decision will likely not be made until the districts determine if they will need to help out other areas.

Fork Township Sanitary District may have to help the city of Goldsboro, said District Manager Tony McCabe.

"I do know we are probably going to have to help the city. If we start feeding them water everyday in certain areas, I don't know that we are going to be able to cut back 50 percent, especially if we add customers," he said.

McCabe said the district has already cut back from 1.2 million gallons a day in May to 800,000 gallons a day now.