It is almost summertime in the Triangle. We know that because water restrictions are already in place or are under consideration for being adopted by various Triangle communities. It is a basic fact of life that water can be a scarce commodity at times here due to a general lack of rain from June through August as well as high heat and humidity that absorbs water lying in rivers, lakes, streams, etc., and with more people arriving in the Triangle every day, well, you can see why restrictions occur.
Most of these in effect now are voluntary rather than mandatory measures – the Triangle has not been as dry as most counties to the south and west of it, being only less than 4 inches below normal in precipitation. But current forecasts predict little significant relief in at least the next week, and as temperatures keep rising, reservoir levels will keep falling, making it more likely limits will go into effect soon.
Even if you are not living in the Triangle yet, or live or will be living in a residence that uses well water, you need to keep abreast of these changes, particularly as they can be adjusted within weeks if not days if the area stays high and dry. Here is a current overview:
Wake – Cary already has in place year-round water restrictions where you cannot water with an automatic or manual sprinkler system, or a sprinkler attached to a garden hose, Mondays, and odd-numbered addresses can do so Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, while even-numbered addresses can do so Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Come July 1, the city of Raleigh and its water and sewer customers in Garner, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Knightdale, Wendell and Zebulon will begin the same pattern year round as well. Watering with a hand-held hose is exempt from these restrictions. First violation for the new policy is a warning, followed by fines of $50 and $200. A fourth violation results in your water being shut off.
Other parts of Wake County, including Apex, the outlying county and Research Triangle Park South, are under Stage I: Voluntary Conservation Practices. Stage I encourages residents to check fixtures for leaks and keep them in good repair, store water to drink in the refrigerator instead of letting the tap run, take four-minute showers instead of baths, and turn off the tap while shaving or brushing teeth. Residents are also encouraged to limit the use of clothes washers and dishwashers and to only wash full loads.
Durham – So far residents here are only under voluntary restrictions under Stage I.
Orange – The Orange County Water and Sewer Authority, or OWASA, which provides service to Chapel Hill and Carrboro and much of unincorporated southern Orange County, limits spray irrigation to the same schedule most of Wake County will have come July, with spray irrigation defined as “the application of water to landscaping by means of a device that projects water through the air in the form of small particles or droplets.” Spray irrigation can occur up to each of the three days limited by address, however, but may not add up to more than one inch per week. OWASA also charges higher seasonal water rates from May through September ($5.51 per 1,000 gallons versus $2.90 per 1,000 gallons the rest of the year) to encourage conservation and ease peak usages.
To keep up with the water restriction status in your part of the Triangle, visit the water conservation level status page on the Web sit for the Division of Water Resources of the North Carolina Department of Environmental and Natural Resources. This page does an excellent job of letting you realize what is going on in terms of water shortages statewide and how your community is responding to it.
And no, we do not know how to do a rain dance, so do not ask us to do that, OK?