Towns lift water restrictions as some remain

March 29, 2008 8:28:06 AM PDT
Next week, Cary will become the latest town to start allowing some lawn watering again.

The list of cities letting up on water restrictions is growing, but hundreds of thousands of Triangle residents will still have to keep the hoses put away.

This past fall, parts of Jordan Lake was reduced to dry, cracking earth with only tree stumps peaking up above the water line. Now, the lake is actually over full.

Apex which gets its water from Jordan Lake is letting residents water on an odd-even irrigation schedule next week. Cary officials tell us they'll be allowing some lawn watering within certain days as well. Officials plan to announce the scaled-back rules on Monday.

Rocky Mount and Harnett County residents can also do some watering now, but it's a different story in Raleigh, where the hoses will likely stay dirty, unused and off a while longer.

Raleigh utility officials say the main reason why water restrictions will remain in Raleigh is because Falls Lake is only 73 percent full. Raleigh Public Utilities spokesman, Ed Buchan explains, "We're never this low this late in the spring, normally we're full. To be 2 feet down, this late in March, is a historic low."

Trigger points are in place so Raleigh customers can resume watering. Some lawn watering by hand will be allowed when Falls Lake is 90 percent full. You'll be able to use irrigation systems once a week when the lake is at 100 percentcapacity.

City Councilman Rodger Koopman says, "We are definitely interested in ratcheting back as soon as we can because we're hurting businesses."

Durham remains another watering holdout. Bull City leaders have set three criteria before moving to fewer restrictions. Both Lake Michie and the Little River Reservoir have to be full. Durham County has to move from the extreme drought to the severe drought category. And Falls Lake which is fed by rivers that feed Durham's lakes too must fill up more.

Bottom line for those in the Triangle's two largest cities - be patient. For now your lawn's fate appears to be in Mother Nature's hands.

Raleigh officials say it could take longer than expected for Falls Lake to get to 90 percent full when very minimal hand watering will be allowed. Officials say because of the way the lake is shaped, the closer to full it gets, the more rain is needed to raise its level.


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