Triangle's top ten water users

February 28, 2008 12:41:40 PM PST
From shorter showers to less laundering to toilet-flushing tips, Raleigh has asked all customers to cut back on water use in this historic drought.

"We're hoping that everyone will get down to 35 gallons per day, per person," says Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker.

But Eyewitness News has discovered that some companies have a history of using about 1,000 times that each and every day.

Data, obtained exclusively by Eyewitness News, answers the question everybody's been asking since conservation began: Who are the biggest water users?

The City of Raleigh has been unwilling to release information about its largest water customers, citing federal privacy laws. Eyewitness News refused to take "no" for an answer, however, and uncovered lists after scouring financial records that are compiled when the city seeks funding for bond packages.

We found Top 10 Water Customer lists for the fiscal years ending in June of 2000, 2003 and 2006.

"When you look at a list of big users in Raleigh what you see are the institutional users at the top," says Mayor Meeker.

And that's what we found.

Fiscal year 2005-2006 is the most recent information available.

At that time, Knightdale had yet to merge water systems with Raleigh. The town contracted to buy water from Raleigh, and it did so at a rate of about 1,507,000 gallons of water a day, putting it at the top of the list.

Number 2 on the list? NC State University, using more than 1,264,000 gallons daily.

Next up, the state of North Carolina, with all the buildings it owns, using about 900,000 gallons each day.

"We are the capital and therefore there are lots of state government facilities here," says Dale Crisp, Public Utilities Director for the City of Raleigh.

Wake County, with its buildings and land, is 5th with 466,000 gallons per day, followed by the City of Raleigh, which is 6th, using 465,000 gallons per day.

One also finds some big businesses on the list.

Ajinomoto is a pharmaceutical company that makes amino acid and in the fiscal year 2005-2006, used 553,000 gallons per day to land at 4th on the list.

Mallinckrodt is also a pharmaceutical company. In 2006, according to the numbers we obtained, they used 444,000 gallons of city water a day, enough for 7th place. Pepsi Cola Bottling is 8th on the list for that year, at about 406,000 gallons of water per day.

Rounding out the Top 10 are the Town of Holly Springs, using 367,000 gallons of Raleigh water during 2005-2006, and in the 10th spot, a real estate company called UDRT of North Carolina. It used 309,000 gallons of water a day in 2005-2006, according to the documents we found.

So that's the list. Why the secrecy? Is there anything wrong with this kind of consumption?

The folks in charge of the water say "no".

"Some of the companies do use a lot of Raleigh's water for their particular operation, but their usage of that water has paid benefits to our customers," says Crisp.

Crisp adds that, to his knowledge, those industries all doing what they can to limit usage during the drought, and he points out that no industrial users have been cited for violating watering restrictions.

"I think these businesses, you know, ought to be careful like everyone else," says Mayor Meeker. "But they're here and they're part of our community and we need to look after them as well."

Click here for more information about the drought and for links to resources about water conservation.


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