10/28/07 — City Council tweaks rules list for water usage

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City Council tweaks rules list for water usage

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on October 28, 2007 2:01 AM

Construction crews will not have to stop work until the city's water use restrictions are lifted, but car dealerships aren't going to be able to clean up their rides for customers.

And those who run car washes had better make sure they keep an eye on water use.

Those are just three of the provisions adopted this week by Goldsboro City Council in the final draft of the city's Water Shortage Response Ordinance.

In addition to increasingly strict usage rules for homeowners -- and penalties to match, businesses and other interests that use city water will have to cut back until city officials see some relief from drought conditions.

The conservation call came after a warning by Gov. Mike Easley that the state was facing severe shortages in the majority of its 100 counties, with others close behind.

The changes that were made to the first draft of the ordinance that was recommended and discussed at Monday's City Council meeting include specific regulations for some business users.

The first would allow the usage of water by construction workers in Mandatory Conservation Phase III. Councilman Chuck Allen spoke in favor of the change -- as long as the water is not used for unnecessary purposes.

"I don't have a problem with not using water for dust compaction and control," he said. "But if you don't allow construction sites to use water, you're going to stop construction."

Allen said most construction workers use water to do their jobs. Not allowing them to use water will delay construction of new business buildings -- and slow business and economic growth.

"A brick mason is going to need water, and they are not going to use as much as others would anyway," he said.

Another revision to Phase III measures concerns automobile dealers. They will no longer be able to rinse off or wash vehicles.

Allen also spoke on that provision.

"If someone wants to buy a car, they can take it to the car wash after they buy it," he said.

The last revision to Phase III also added an excess demand surcharge for car washes.

The revised ordinance states that car washes that do not reduce their usage by 30 percent would be charged double rates for both water and sewer.

The double doubling is to give business owners an incentive -- or a stick -- that will keep car wash owners in compliance.

City officials said doubling water charges alone is not sufficient enough to do so.

The council and city leaders also discussed other revisions to the next step in water conservation -- water crisis -- but officials are hoping the drought doesn't continue long enough to make those necessary.

City Manager Joe Huffman said council will probably discuss and revise measures in the water crisis stage before the drought gets to that point anyway.

He added that he doesn't expect the newly voted-in ordinance to have any more corrections before Phase III becomes effective on Nov. 5.

The fully revised ordinance should be on the city's Web site on Monday, officials say, giving the public time to look over the restrictions before they go into effect.

Check www.newsargus.com for a link to the new restrictions Monday afternoon.