Durham's water restrictions to stay in place

March 20, 2008 2:35:30 PM PDT
Durham's Stage IV water restrictions -- which do not allow for any lawn irrigation whatsoever -- will stay in place for now.The water is overflowing at Lake Michie's dam, and the lake is now full. The Little River Reservoir is close at 91 percent of capacity, yet Durham residents still cannot water their lawns, even by hand.

And at a meeting today, the city council decided it'll stay that way.

"I think it's important that we move cautiously and that we maintain conservation measures," said Durham City Councilwoman Diane Catotti.

Leaders did, however, set some trigger points for when things may ease up; that could happen soon.

Both the Durham water sources will have to be full. The area will have to move out of the extreme drought category into the severe drought category. It was downgraded from the exceptional drought category in recent weeks.

Durham leaders say there's another reason they're gonna keep restrictions in place and prevent people from watering their lawns just yet. They say it has to do with being good neighbors to other communities, like Wake County.

The Little and Flat rivers feed into Durham's lakes first and then into Falls Lake, Raleigh's water source, which isn't as full. Durham leaders don't want to reduce conservation before the Capital City is in better shape.

"Frankly I think it'd be difficult to make changes to our restrictions while our downstream neighbors are still struggling," said Durham City Manager Patrick Baker. "We're watching Falls Lake as closely as the folks in Raleigh are."

Some in the Bull City understand conserving, but think it's time to let people water their lawns.

"If we could get a little bit of break, I think it'd help," said landscaper Clyde Thorpe. "I think it would be a pretty good idea to let 'em water once a week, say, once or twice a week."

With a little more rain, that may well happen. Just not yet.

The City of Durham has about 279 days of usable, easily accessible water in its Lake Michie and the Little River Reservoir.


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