03/18/08 — It is okay to water at home, but...

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It is okay to water at home, but...

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on March 18, 2008 1:46 PM

The Goldsboro City Council lifted some water restrictions on city residents Monday night, saying the drought crisis has eased somewhat due to recent rains, but warned residents to continue conserving wherever possible.

"Don't forget how to conserve," Mayor Al King said. "Use water, but please don't waste water."

Public Utilities Director Karen Brashear said the conditions are getting a little better, with Wayne County moving from the exceptional drought category to the severe drought category, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor of North Carolina.

"It is improving," Ms. Brashear said. "We aren't out of the woods yet, but we see improvements."

The council agreed to reduce the level of the city's Mandatory Conservation Ordinance from Phase III and Phase I, effective immediately, meaning residents may now irrigate their lawns, gardens and plant material and wash their cars at home.

But for now, residents may only water two days a week -- on Tuesday and Friday nights from 7 to midnight if they are located on the north side of Ash Street and on Wednesday and Saturday nights from 7 to midnight if they are located on the south side of Ash Street.

And those residents wishing to wash their car at home must use a pistol grip handle and may only do so on Saturdays and Sundays. Residents may also pressure wash their houses, but only on Saturdays and Sundays.

Car wash fundraisers are allowed only with a pistol grip handle.

Commercial car washing is still OK, and car dealerships may wash but also must have a pistol grip handle.

Other rules for the ordinance are as follows:

* Golf courses and athletic fields are encouraged to reduce watering.

* The implementation of landscape code requirements will be delayed until the next planting season after return-to-normal conditions. A performance bond will be required for any landscaping required by the city's Unified Development Ordinance.

* Leaks must be repaired within 24 hours.

* Ornamental pools and fountains may be filled.

* Restaurants may serve water without specific request.

* Fire hydrants no longer have to be solely used for fire and water utility needs.

* There is no requirement for water-cooled equipment to be recycled.

* Water may be used for dust control.

* Non-residential users are not required to formulate and implement a water reduction plan.

Residents who do not follow the restrictions may see a fine in their future.

Enforcement of the ordinance is as follows:

* A warning for both residential and non-residential users for the first offense.

* $100 fine ($50 civil and $50 administrative) for residential users for the second offense.

* $200 fine ($150 civil and $50 administrative) for non-residential users for the second offense.

Each subsequent offense will cost residential users $200 ($125 civil and $75 administrative) and non-residential users $1,000 ($750 civil and $250 administrative)

Mrs. Brashear said that the water levels are improving, both at the Neuse River, the city's main water source, and at Falls Lake, the source for the Neuse.

The measurements for the Neuse River are currently in or slightly less than the average for March.

The level at Falls Lake was 76.5 percent, Mrs. Brahsear added -- an increase from December's level of 19.4 percent. The area around Falls Lake had 4.57 inches of rain since the last council meeting, she said, but rainfall in that area is still 8.69 inches below normal.

This morning, the Neuse River measured 8.94 feet, according to U.S. Geological Survey data.

So far this month, March 11 hit the highest level with nearly 14 feet due to rainfall that washed downstream. The water level has since balanced out, hitting 6 feet on March 16, and is on a steady increase due to the weekend's rainfall.

During this month last year, the river had a median level of 8.8 feet, with 4.3 feet in 2006 and 10.6 feet in 2005.