Drought bill awaits approval

RALEIGH However, in what looks like the last week of this year's legislature, a big conservation bill has yet to pass and it keeps getting watered down.

Even during last year's big drought, water flowed freely at North Raleigh's Bedford Community.

Some Bedford residents remember their neighborhood racking up some of the most fines in Raleigh for violating city outdoor water rules.

Many cities still have outdoor water restrictions, but those rules are hard to enforce.

Neighbors often have to police themselves. Or city workers have to catch violators in the act.

A state drought bill now working through the legislature would have made it easier to track outdoor water use, by forcing new irrigation systems to have separate water meters.

"Once you meter, you can measure, and then conceivably to reduce water use you could charge more," said Elizabeth Outes with Environment NC.

The city of Raleigh already makes new homes have two meters, one for indoor water and one for outside.

Water officials say summer irrigation can spike daily water use by 35 percent. But so far, state law-makers have stripped water meters from their big drought bill.

"Right now given the state of our economy and the situation of housing, I don't think we should do anything to add to the cost of housing," Mecklenburg Co. Rep. Ric Killian said.

In Bedford, some neighbors say lots of watering still goes on behind the backyard fence.

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