Recent rains not enought to end drought

April 3, 2008 4:43:54 PM PDT
Falls Lake is filling up -- just not enough to pull the Triangle out of extreme drought conditions.

But with rain forecasted for the weekend, changes could be right around the corner.

Falls Lake is at it's highest level in almost a year -- just 13 inches from full. Add to that the area's recent rain event and we're making some headway, but we're not out of the woods yet.

"We're just a hair over a foot below normal level, which is tremendous improvement since Christmas when we were 10 feet," Dale Crisp, director Public Utilities Department, said.

In Durham and parts of Wake County, water restrictions are starting to lift. Cary water customers can water outdoors three times a week.

"Cary gets water from Jordan Lake," Crisp said. "Durham reservoir filled up this week. That's why they pulled the restrictions. When Falls Lake is full Raleigh will do likewise."

Falls Lake is predicted to reach 90 percent capacity sometime next week. Then Raleigh can move back to Stage 1.5.

"[It] could be sooner than that if we get a nice rain event projected over the next couple of days, so we're getting close," Crisp said.

It would allow pressure washing, commercial car washing and watering with hand held hoses. Sprinklers would not be allowed until restrictions go back to Stage 1, when Falls Lake is 100 percent full.

It's good news for struggling lawns like Linda Lynch's.

"Since I retired, I spend more time in the yard, pick up sticks, rake if I need to, fool with the flowers," Lynch said.

She's watched her yard suffer with the dry conditions.

"The flowers don't do good," Lynch said. "We've always had trouble with grass, very dry."

But like many, she's keeping a close eye on the forecast, hoping the soggy spring keeps up.

"I'm keeping my fingers crossed for more [rain] for the yards," Lynch said.

March ended with above normal rainfall, but don't jump the gun. If you get caught watering, you still can face big fines.

Since February when Stage 2 went into effect, the city has issued 36 $1000 fines with a third handed out just in the last week.


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