Are Raleigh leaders taking water rules seriously?

February 16, 2008 9:54:53 AM PST
Raleigh leaders say residents need to take the drought seriously. But have city leaders been taking the water rules seriously?

A look at Raleigh's municipal code, the by laws of the city, suggests the city has had plans for stronger conservation, which the city has chosen not to take.

"We ought to be following code to make sure we are conserving what we need to conserve, so we don't run out of water at Falls Lake," said Karen Rindge, Wake Up Wake Co.

One rule says the city's water rates, the price we pay per gallon, should "provide an economic incentive for water conservation." But Raleigh city council has kept city water as some of the cheapest in the state.

"So far, there's not been a desire to implement a conservation rate structure in Raleigh," Raleigh Utilities Director Dale Crisp said.

Neuse River Keeper Dean Noujoks asks, "When are we going to learn from our mistakes, start following the codes that are on the books?"

Raleigh's water conservation ordinance also sets guidelines for when the city should implement Stage Two conservation rules. It says Stage Two may be necessary when projected supply falls below 50 percent of projected demand.

But Raleigh leaders waited until Friday to start Stage Two -- when water supply has fallen to 30 percent of demand.

"Raleigh Public Utilities should be asked why they haven't followed their own municipal code and moved to Stage Two conservation much sooner than they did," Noujoks said.

According to Crisp, the City has not followed recommendations. "And there are circumstances that dictated why we didn't," he said.

Crisp says a late December storm helped stall Stage Two rules, and he points out Raleigh's municipal code does not mandate when to impose conservation rules.

"It's just a guide," Crisp said. "There's no requirement to move to that."

But others say the City has a clear road map to conserve water and is not following it.


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