Stage Two Coming Up?

I just drove across University Lake at Jones Ferry Road. I reckon we have all noticed the grass growing on the bare bottom of the Northe nd of the reservoir, but it looked jsut now like the grass was starting to turn brown . . . Anyway, so the OWASA Board of Directors will be meeting this Thursday at 7:30 PM to consider whether to declare a Stage Two water shortage.

Here's hoping OWASA will proceed to stage two. It looks like we have about 5 and a half months of water left if we keep consuming the way we have been.

Stage Two (2) Water Shortage

. . . Upon OWASA's declaration of a Stage Two Water Shortage, the following actions shall be taken with the goal of reducing overall water demand by fifteen (15) percent:

Water use by individually metered residential customer accounts and by individually metered single-family residential irrigation-only accounts shall be limited to no more than an average of 800 gallons per day during any monthly billing cycle beginning after the declaration of a Water Supply Shortage or Water Supply Emergency and ending while such restrictions are still in effect.

Spray irrigation with OWASA-supplied potable water shall not be permitted, except by persons regularly engaged in the sale of plants, who shall be allowed to irrigate their commercial stock in trade.

Irrigation by underground, drip irrigation, micro spray, low precipitation bubblers, soaker hose systems with automatic shutoffs, or by hand held hoses or watering cans shall be limited to a maximum of one-half inch of water applied to plant material in any given week.

No OWASA-supplied potable water shall be used to re-fill ornamental fountains, ponds, and like devices.

No OWASA-supplied potable water shall be used for washing vehicles, except at commercial or institutional car washes in which at least 50 percent of the water has been recycled.

No OWASA-supplied potable water shall be used for filling or re-filling empty swimming pools. OWASA-supplied potable water may be used to top off operating swimming pools.

No OWASA-supplied potable water shall be used for the routine cleaning or washing of exterior building surfaces, decks, or paved areas, such as sidewalks, driveways, roadways, and parking lots. This restriction shall not apply to the pressure cleaning of exterior building surfaces or decks prior to painting or re-painting that is necessary to protect or maintain the physical integrity of the structure.

No OWASA-supplied potable water may be used for fire department training or equipment testing unless required by State or Federal regulations.

I don't want to be all doom and gloom here, but the forecast does not call for any appreciable amount of rain in the near future and there are no tropical storms brewing out in the South Atlantic either. Try taking OWASA's water conservation audit:

http://www.owasa.org/pages/wateraudit.asp

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Comments

You might be right.
The water use has been much higher than the target set when the restrictions went into place.
Got this from OWASA today:

Orange Water and Sewer Authority

NEWS RELEASE October 16, 2007

OWASA BOARD TO HOLD SPECIAL MEETING ON THURSDAY, OCTOBER 18 TO DISCUSS WATER SUPPLY, DEMAND AND WATER USE RESTRICTIONS

The OWASA Board of Directors will hold a Special Meeting on Thursday, October 18th at 7:00 p.m. in the Community Room at the OWASA Administration Building, 400 Jones Ferry Road, Carrboro to consider staff's recommendation that the Board declare a Stage Two Water Shortage in response to the current water supply and demand situation and in consideration of the Governor's request for greater water conservation.

I assume we will be on Stage II as of the 18th. It's never going to rain again. I figure I'll get laid off sometime in the next week or so. Which is as it should be...I've been trying to convince people NOT to buy plants for weeks.

I'm going to keep my Japanese maples and my Omphalodes cappadocia 'Cherry Ingram' alive with graywater...and let everything else die. It's 2002 all over again..but without the wet fall. It's gonna be ugly, folks!

It's well worth taking a hike down one of the dry creekbeds. Not only is it interesting to see all the stuff that's usually covered with water, but it does a good job showing how very dry it is.

We wandered along the creek at Johnston Mill. I've never seen the creek dry before, and it wasn't completely dry in all places, but small puddles hardly constitute a creek. It's almost like post-nuclear war weird in the surrealness you feel walking along what is usually such a lush environment. All that beauty dead and dried up.

There were some cute baby ferns in one place- I'd guess they have less than a week left to live.

If the community didn't achieve the 10% conservation goal from the Stage 1 Guidelines, what are we going to do differently to achieve the 15% goal?

The Governor's office sent out the following directive to all state agencies yesterday:

We ask that you immediately remind all state government employees of the governor's directive to stop all non-essential water use. Non-essential water uses are defined as those that: do not have any health or safety impacts; are not required by regulation; and are not needed to meet the core functions of the agency.

Examples of non-essential water use include:

· Irrigation of lawns and ornamental plants;

· Washing cars, off-road equipment, and other vehicles unless necessary for operator safety;

· Washing of all building exteriors, outside structures, streets, sidewalks and parking lots;

· Operation of all inside and outside decorative pools and fountains;

· Routine watering of athletic fields;

· Recreational water uses such as swimming pools;

· Dust suppression with water sources other than treated wastewater.

Additional conservation measures that should immediately be employed include:

· Do not operate hoses without hand-operated nozzles;

· Disconnect non-essential ice machines;

· Do not supply tap water at eating establishments unless requested;

· Fix or repair leaks, drips and other water losses;

· Do not wash partial loads in washing machines and dishwashers;

· Do not use hoses for clean up (i.e., do not use hose as a broom), unless required by health code.

I sincerely hope the OWASA board will amend the guidelines to cease all irrigation of plants and lawns, including inground irrigation systems. We can all collect bath water for tender plants and it's time for lawns to go dormant.

So Easley goes through two droughts and now on the third he waits until we are deep into it and finally comes out with a fairly feeble list of obvious things that can be done to conserve some water. This guy's leadership level is consistently lower than most of our reservoirs.

Where are the calls for legislation that supports greywater use in North Carolina? Where are the policy recommendations on water conservation standards for housing developments? Where are the calls for rainwater harvesting?

OWASA is considering charging customers who utilize rainwater to flush their toilets (or other uses which may send the wastewater into the sewer system) for wastewater treatment. We should be actively offering incentives for this instead of making it more expensive. The use of rainwater should be viewed as an inexpensive source of supply. When compared to other sources of supply, it is probably the 2nd cheapest, with avoiding water use being the cheapest.

Mark M,

How can OWASA possibly know who is using rainwater to flush their toilets? Are they going to install webcams? :-)

Good one, George - I can see a great cartoon in the local paper...

Here's the link to the issue and the OWASA staff recommendation:

http://www.owasa.org/agenda/UploadedFiles/2007/parts/Item%207%20-%20Rain...

The meeting is at 7pm --- NOT 7:30pm.

CH-C is in good shape for this extended drought.
our neighbors are not. when we brought Cane Creek
online, some thought it was overkill. now who will
oppose selling water to needy neighbors? it reminds
me of the new Jordan Lake....NO ONE would want the
water from that Dirty Old Lake fed by the Haw River.
give the Army Corps of Engineers their due.

oh...one other thing....
my air conditioner produces 4 gallons of pure water
every 24 hours. this water works in our washing machine.

We should not sell water to needy neighbors and thus enable them to continue with wasteful policies. We would not be leaving them high & dry however - there are many untapped opportunities for water conservation in every community.

Here's today's press release from OWASA:

OWASA BOARD DECLARES STAGE TWO WATER SHORTAGE
DUE TO SEVERE DROUGHT CONDITIONS;
TIGHTER WATER USE RESTRICTIONS IN EFFECT

In a special meeting on Thursday night, October 19th, the OWASA Board of Directors declared a Stage Two Water Shortage with the goal of reducing the community's current water demand by at least 15%. OWASA serves the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community.

OWASA officials cited the following:

· Because of the ongoing severe drought, reservoir levels have continued to fall and there has been no stream flow to OWASA's reservoirs since early August.

· The Cane Creek Reservoir and University Lake, which are the Carrboro-Chapel Hill-southeast Orange County community's primary public water sources, are about 51% full.

· The U.S. Drought Monitor rates the drought as “Exceptional,” and the long-term weather forecast indicates that drought conditions will continue into 2008.

· Recent demand has averaged about 8.9 million gallons per day, exceeding the Stage One Water Shortage goal of reducing demand to 8.2 million gallons per day or less.

Stage Two Water Shortage Use Restrictions for OWASA Customers

a. Spray irrigation with OWASA drinking water is not permitted, except by people regularly engaged in the sale of plants, who are allowed to irrigate their commercial stock in trade.

b. Irrigation by underground, drip irrigation, micro-spray, low precipitation bubblers, soaker hose systems with automatic shutoffs, or by hand held hoses or watering cans is limited to a maximum of one-half inch of water applied to plant material in any given week.

c. Water waste, including plumbing leaks that can be readily identified and corrected, is prohibited.

d. Water use by individually-metered residential customer accounts and by individually metered single-family residential irrigation-only accounts is limited to no more than an average of 800 gallons per day during any monthly billing cycle beginning after the declaration of a Water Supply Shortage or Water Supply Emergency and ending while such restrictions are still in effect. OWASA may terminate service for water use exceeding the 800 gallon per day limit in a monthly billing period.

e. No OWASA-supplied potable water shall be used for washing vehicles except at commercial or institutional car washes in which at least 50 percent of the water has been recycled.

f. No OWASA-supplied potable water shall be used for filling or re-filling empty swimming pools. OWASA-supplied potable water may be used to top off operating swimming pools.

g. No OWASA-supplied potable water shall be used to re-fill ornamental fountains, ponds, and like devices.

h. No OWASA-supplied potable water shall be used for the routine cleaning or washing of exterior building surfaces, decks, or paved areas such as sidewalks, driveways, roadways and parking lots. This restriction shall not apply to the pressure cleaning of exterior building surfaces or decks before painting or re-painting that is necessary to protect or maintain the physical integrity of the structure.

i. Restaurants and dining facilities shall serve water only on request of the customer.

j. Hotels, motels, and other facilities providing sleeping accommodations shall change bed linens only upon request of the customer, upon customer changeover, or every five days for long-term customers.

k. The operation of dishwashers and clothes washers only when loaded to their maximum capacity, or at water level settings appropriate for the size of the load, is strongly encouraged.

l. The use of ultra-low flow toilets, tank dams, flow restrictors (aerators) and low-flow showerheads, where not otherwise required, is strongly encouraged.

m. Plumbing systems shall be properly maintained and repaired to prevent water leaks.

o. Indoor water leaks on property or facilities of OWASA customers must be repaired within 10 days of discovery and notification by OWASA.

p. The protection of public health, safety, and welfare may, under special circumstances, require the use of limited amounts of OWASA drinking water for purposes such as washing out garbage trucks, cleaning up hazardous or other unsanitary materials, etc. Such uses are permitted during declared Water Shortages or Emergencies if other practical alternatives are not available and water is used in the least practical amount.

STAGE TWO SURCHARGES TO BEGIN ON NOVEMBER 1, 2007
FOR HIGH RESIDENTIAL WATER USE

Stage Two surcharges for high water use by individually-metered residential customers will go into effect on November 1st. (Previously, Stage One water surcharges had been approved to go into effect on November 1st.)

Cary/Apex also seems to be in good shape with about 200 days of water left. What I really can't get my head around is Durham. I do not understand why they are not being more aggressive about conservation.

A good wake up for all of us was on the front page of the NY Times this morning.It talked about how/why Atlanta waited too long to take strong measures to deal with thier water shortage.We can learn from thier mistakes if we are smart.
A few days ago James and I decided to see just how much water we can save.The Gov's call for %50 reduction was also a strong sign of the problem we face if we don't act soon.
So this morning I read the Times article ,then watered the roses using twater that dripped overnight into the pots we had placed under the AC unit drip pipe-(enough to water 3 rose bushes,!)then I got ready for work,flushed the toliet using water saved from the shower.Out the door and walking to work feeling like we were at least trying-then I passed several bright green lawns that had been watered overnight using in ground irigation and felt like a chump! Why should we try to save water only to have it wasted for stupid grass!
So..tonight I will ask the Board of Alderman to request that our OWASA reps make a motion wednesday night that OWASA ban all outdoor water usage.I will also ask the town to suspend our landscaping requirments for new build till the draught is over - then revisit them -and ask that CH and OC do the same.
We don't need to wait till we are in a crisis like Atlanta before we take strong action.If you agree please let OWASA know your feelings
JAcquie Gist

Tonight I will ask the Board of Alderman to request that our OWASA reps make a motion wednesday night that OWASA ban all outdoor water usage. I will also ask the town to suspend our landscaping requirements for new build till the draught is over - then revisit them -and ask that CH and OC do the same.

Hallelujah! This is the kind of leadership we've been needing. Thank you Jacquie.

Jacquie, I thought you all (not OWASA) were the only ones with legislative ability. OWASA declares how much they need conversation, but the bans and such come from the BOA (or it appears some delegation to mayors based on OWASA rec). If you feel strongly OWASA isn't doing enough, I'm confused why the BOA wouldn't just take the leadership and issue the ban.

I think that basically what is being proposed here is going to Stage 3 water restrictions.

I was just thinking about Hillsborough and the fact that their water delivery sytem is very leaky. If Easley had the merest hint of a clue he would address the infrastructure problem across the state, call on water systems to report on how much leakage they have, & then figure out how to fix the problems. Maybe that Goodyear money could help??

North Carolina should adopt greywater rules like California's(and most European countries).

It's very early in Stage 2, but this is a pretty good community response:

http://www.owasa.org/pages/supplydemandgraph.asp

James B
In these situations OWASA usualy ask the three governing bodies to impose restrictions and the boards always do so.The request has always come from OWASA since they are ones hired,appointed and empowered to be the water experts.In this case they are not making the request for a total ban on outdoor watering for whatever reason and so I will ask the BOA to have Carrboro's OWASA reps move that OWASA request the 3 boards to enact a total ban.I know--it sounds a little convaluted but that is how things have worked for the past 30 plus years and it has worked well.This time though it seems like the boards will need to take a more proactive stance instead of waitng on the "experts" to make the recommendation. The OWASA folks -staff and board are the best there is and are very well informed and dedicated,in this case though they being overly concerned about grass owners and as elected officals the responsibility ultamitly falls on us to take care of the community so we will need to go against tradition on this one.
Jacquie

Mark, it'll be interesting to see if that is a trend as students are back from Fall Break this week....

I attended the OWASA board meeting last night. And, no the initial drop in water use in response to the Stage 2 restrictions did not continue. In fact, Ed Kerwin said that water use trends in Orange County have been "very discouraging." Basically, customers need to do a lot more to conserve, he said.

If you're interested in more on this, see my blog at http://readblog.wordpress.com/.

Sadly I am afraid that untill OWASA ask that all outdoor watering,other then using water from showers,dishes etc to water plants,is banned we will not see a drop in usage.Not because of large numbers of folks watering lawns but because when a few water there lawns with"efficent" in ground systems it sends a strong message to all who see it that the situation is not really that bad.After all if it were really really serious OWASA would not allow this..so the thinking goes...so why should I bother to save water in my home so these folks can waste it on their stupid grass
JAcquie Gist

I'd like to see a report from the UNC Hospital complex on their water use. I bet there is a lot of water waste that is justified by unexamined assertions about health & safety.

I'm afraid that Jacquie is on to something.

Last week, I was driving through a neighborhood with a fair amount of patchy grass, but there were a few brilliant green lawns and one with a revolving sprinkler running in the middle of the afternoon and water running down the driveway and into the street.

I thought we were doing pretty well on our water usage but visiting friends yesterday they said they were in the second bracket for billing and I started wondering how we could get down into that bracket too.
People are influenced by their peers and neighbors.

This brings us to enforcement. OWASA lacks the manpower to go door to door with Stage 2 exhortations. Many home owners just don't get it.

As for UNC Hospitals, they might feel exempt or actually be exempt from water use restrictions. Maybe a local reporter could contact their Public Relations Department for a statement.

Re: the person using a sprinkler in the middle of the day--no one is supposed to be using spray irrigation under the current restrictions.

It seems like an enforcement question. What are OWASA and the police doing to enforce the restrictions? And are people willing to rat on their neighbors?

According to Ed Kerwin, executive director of OWASA, no one's water has been cut off yet. But you'd have to use 24,000 gallons per month before they'd do that.

You know, some people have WELLS. Now, they still shouldn't be sprinkling--because they deplete the groundwater--but wells aren't governed by the OWASA rules.

As to UNC Hospitals---
Y'all are kidding, right? You think they are wasting water willy-nilly? On what, an extra rinse for the bed linens? Too much mop water in patients' rooms? People shouldn't be flushing so often? I think the hospital is one place I want people to err on the side of "better safe than sorry"--particularly with nasty staph like MRSA out there...

I'd love to hear exactly what water waste UNC is justifying "by unexamined assertions about health & safety." Please give me examples?

OWASA turned off all irrigation meters this morning according to an emailed press release sent out yesterday.

"OWASA officials said Thursday that the utility will begin turning off irrigation-only water service Friday morning to more than 230 residential and non-residential customers who have that service.

Because the Stage Two water use restrictions for OWASA customers include a ban on spray irrigation, customers with irrigation-only service should not be using their systems."

Jacquie--I don't agree that it is OWASA's responsibility to ban in-ground irrigation systems. I feel like that is a land use issue that should fall onto the town to regulate. Maybe the town and OWASA can work together to craft a policy on these systems--the town bans the systems and OWASA doesn't install irrigation-only meters.

Sprinklers being used illegally in CH/C should be reported to the police and/or OWASA. I believe that at this point only inground drip irrigation systems are allowed. I think you can't even see that type of irrigation. And even that type of irrigation may soon be prohibited.

Here are my notes on a meeting of the Towns of Carrboro and Chapel Hill with OWASA held this past thursday at 4:30 PM at OWASA:

"In a meeting called by Mayor Foy and me, OWASA's leadership told the town governments about their ongoing efforts. Mayor Foy suggested publicizing the community's daily consumption of water in the papers. I suggested that OWASA, in addition to the present caps on consumption, should establish a 'per-person goal' that we should all aim toward in our water conservation efforts. Everyone seemed to like this idea and OWASA is going to develop a suggested water conservation goal for individual residences.

"There was a discussion of drip irrigation systems that are still allowed to irrigate. OWASA made the point that these systems are highly efficient. Mayor Foy and I expressed the concern that any sort of outdoor drinking water use is not easily reconciled with the request that families conserve water within the home. OWASA staff pointed out that going to Stage 3 restrictions would prohibit that type of use, but that Stage 3 would also, for example, 1) prohibit plant nurseries from watering, 2) prohibit certain kinds of water system testing that is necessary for the construction of Elementary School #10, and 3) involve some other fairly drastic measures. The feeling was that an ordinance amending the rules for stage 2 conservation would be a better approach. OWASA will bring forth a reccomendation about this matter. The Towns will take the reccomendation and consider a change in their respective ordinances.

"OWASA staff made it very clear that they are primarily focused on ensuring that OWASA customers interests are being protected by conserving existing water supplies. OWASA Director Ed Kerwin and OWASA Board Chair Randy Kabrick stated plainly that they are not concerned about how conservation efforts may affect OWASA financially - that OWASA is in good financial condition and can find a way to make conservation work financially.

"Chair Kabrick made the larger point that other states with serious long-term water issues have created regional Water Boards that play a role in the operation of public and private water utilities as well as individual wells. These Boards regulate water consumption by various users and try to manage water supplies at a more regional level. We all discussed the possibility of raising state level awareness of the opportunity for more regional approaches to drinking water."

FYI, y'all. Here's the latest from Greg Feller at OWASA about the rain:

As of 4:00 p.m. Friday:

· Over the last couple of days, we have recorded 2.7 inches of rainfall at the Cane Creek Reservoir (our primary water source) and 3.3 inches at the Jones Ferry Road Water Treatment Plant in Carrboro.
· The Cane Creek Reservoir level rose 1.5 inches and University Lake gained 4.5 inches.
· Overall they went from 50.0% to 50.6% full.
· Streamflow to Cane Creek is still zero – the soil is really soaking up the rain

This has not been a drought-busting rain, but it is a much needed start!

 

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