Weakening La Nina offers glimmer of hope

January 15, 2008 6:58:39 PM PST
While measurable rainfall for 2008 is a dismal 0.15 inches and the exceptional drought lingers, hope is glimmering with the National Weather Service (NWS) and N.C. Climatology Office Tuesday, predicting significant rain events on the way and a possible early departure of La Nina.

Rain events of at least an inch are forecast for Thursday and again the middle of next week. The NWS's long-term data indicates for the first time during this drought that the La Nina effect may be weakening and may end a month earlier than had been predicted.

Even so, the official long-term forecast continues to indicate a "below normal chance" of rainfall for the remainder of the winter and early spring, with a return to "equal chance" of normal rainfall in the late spring and early summer.

Falls Lake is down to 242.95 feet, which is 8.66 feet below full. Adding the 2007 rainfall deficit of 7.2 inches to the 1.66-inch deficit that we have racked up in 2008, brings the current rain deficit to 8.8 inches.

The current 30-day pumpage demand average is 39.2 million gallons daily (MGD), which is the same as the past two weeks. Falls Lake's 117-day water supply pool projects to May 11.

Raleigh's water supply shriveled to 91 days on Dec. 25. Stage 2 Water Conservation Measures will be implemented should the lake's water supply pool drop to 90 days.

The measures:

? prohibit the use of public water for irrigation; ? prohibit filling new swimming or wading pools. Water may be added to pools to maintain sanitary operating conditions. Filling of pools drained for repair is prohibited; ? prohibit washing vehicles at any location, except at car-washing facilities that have been certified by the City to be in compliance with the requirements of the conservation certification program. A total of 19 car washes have been certified under the conservation program. (They are listed at the bottom of this release.) A placard issued by the City must be displayed on the car wash facility. Also, the City may approve the washing of some vehicles for sanitary purposes (such as solid waste trucks); ? prohibit washing of areas such as sidewalks, patios, decks, driveways, parking lots, streets and exterior building surfaces, except for soiled areas for the maintenance of public health and sanitary conditions; ? require that leaking water services or plumbing be repaired within 24 hours of written notification by the City's Public Utilities Director or service will be interrupted; ? prohibit the serving of drinking water in restaurants, except upon request; ? prohibit all non-essential use of water for commercial or public use; ? prohibit use of water-cooled air conditioners or other equipment that does not recycle cooling water, except when health and safety are adversely affected; ? require innkeepers to ask guests spending more than one night to use their towels and bed linens more than once between laundering; and, ? direct commercial and industrial customers to review water uses and implement industry specific best management water conservation practices.

First violation of the Stage 2 ordinance carries a fine of $1,000. Any recurrence of the violation may result in interruption of water service. A two-week grace period, in which the initial fine will be $250, will be observed when Stage 2 restrictions are enacted.

Amended Stage 1 water restrictions, which went into effect Oct. 23, have resulted in a 24 percent reduction. A reduction of 39 percent has been realized since Aug. 28 when mandatory water use restrictions were implemented. A total of 412 citations, which carry a $200 fine and 13 $1,000 penalties have been issued for the 18 weeks Raleigh has been under mandatory water use restrictions.

The water conservation restrictions apply to all City of Raleigh water customers, including those in towns that have merged water and sewer systems with Raleigh. Those towns are Garner, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Knightdale, Wendell and Zebulon.

For more information on Stage 2 water restrictions, visit the City's website at www.raleighnc.gov or telephone the City's Public Utilities Department at 857-4540.


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