11/05/07 — Today's the day: No more watering

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Today's the day: No more watering

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on November 5, 2007 1:46 PM

It's official today.

Residential outside watering is forbidden as part of the city's continuing efforts to manage a months-long, statewide drought.

But residents won't be the only ones affected -- some businesses are on the water chopping block, too.

On Oct. 25, City Council met to discuss changes to Phase III of Mandatory Conservation, and council members decided to put those measures into effect starting today.

The rainfall from the last few weeks didn't help that much, Public Utilities Director Karen Brashear said, and the measures come from the probability of the water level returning to less than 3 feet in the Neuse River.

As of right now, the water level of the Neuse River is at 3.19 feet and dropping.

"We did see a wave from that 3-inch rain event come through, but it has been dropping," Mrs. Brashear said.

The water level throughout most of October was between 2.29 feet and 3 feet. But the water level toward the latter part of the month started to increase with more rainfall. Around Oct. 25, the water level started rising on a semi-steady grade.

The water level peaked on Oct. 30 and has been slowly decreasing over the past week.

Mrs. Brashear said she predicts the water level will continue to decrease back down to where it was at the beginning of October, give or take a few inches.

"I look at four gauges: Clayton, Falls Lake, Goldsboro and the Little River," she said. "Looking upstream at Clayton and Falls Lake is a predictor for what we will see a few days later."

To help the water level from decreasing more, Mrs. Brashear would like to see citizens "considerably conserve water."

"We need people to know how to conserve water and respond to different situations," she said. "If this should continue, and we go to a more restrictive conservation stage, these people will know what to do."

And these new measures will get those on city water prepared for the worst, City Manager Joe Huffman said.

"These measures are going to help us change out behaviors, and if we do run into a shortage in the future and have to rely primarily on groundwater, we will be used to conserving," he said.

Car washes and car dealerships will have to jump on board with the consumption measures as well.

The new measures state that car washes need to cut their consumption by 30 percent or face double usage charges for both city water and sewer.

David Quick, who has been in the car washing business since 1980, spoke to the council at its meeting on Oct. 22 about asking car washes to cut down instead of closing altogether.

He owns Quick's car wash on U.S. Highway 70 West.

His suggestions to car washes in the area are to cut hours or shut down parts of the car wash.

But, most of the ones that he is familiar with, he said, already do the normal things to cut back on water.

"They check for leaks and make sure they have the correct size of nozzles," he said. "Now, they are trying to decide how to comply and save 30 percent more, but that is more desirable than being told to shut down and go out of business."

Car dealers in the area will have to sell dirty cars.

But, Councilman Chuck Allen said at the council's meeting on Oct. 25 that if people want to buy cars, they can take them to a car wash after they buy it.

The end is not near for residents or businesses, though.

Mrs. Brashear is expecting the severe drought situation to continue.

"Today, we still have water in the river," she said, but she doesn't expect an increase in the amount of water available anytime soon.

"We still are going to be in a prolonged drought," she said.