Rain makes a dent

Some good news: our drought is only "extreme" now! The rain is is barely, slightly, kind of starting to catch us up.

Durham, Orange, Chatham, Person and Granville counties are now listed as being in "extreme" drought, the fourth highest of five drought classifications used by the state. The five area counties had been listed in the worst drought classification, "exceptional," for months.

- herladsun.com: Rain lowers drought category, 3/14/08

But don't stop conserving. We've got a long way to go, and OWASA's surcharges will still kick in on Monday as planned.




YAY!!!! So happy! LET IT RAIN!



“Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other's welfare, social justice can never be attained.” Helen Keller

OWASA's continued vigilance deserves applause. They're smart to impose the surcharges on schedule, in keeping with long-term predictions. Water conservation has only recently been re-invented, quite effectively, as a good habit we can't simply break on rainy days.

I was listening to WCHL today & heard an ad for Chapel Hill Car Wash saying that using their facility during the drought does not affect our water supply because they have a well. They ended with some slogan like "you can be green and your car can be clean". No mention of recycling water.

Progress (sic) Energy is considering utilizing groundwater for their considerable nuclear plant needs since Harris Lake is so close to being too low for their system.

The idea that groundwater doesn't count will come back to bite us. 


Orange County now has a water resources website called H2Orange available: http://www.h2orange.org . On that site are the presentations made at last weekend's Water: The Cycle of Life workshop. One presentation, entitled The Hydrogeology of Orange County, does an excellent job of explaining the details of surface water and ground water.

To:Steve Stewart, Town ManagerFrom:George Seiz, Public Works Director
Re:Water Conservation EffortsDate:March 13, 2008
 Town staff have been working to conserve water by following Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA) conservation requirements and making others aware of the need to conserve.  These efforts include the following: Operations 
  • Eliminated the general washing of all vehicles and equipment.  The protection of public health, safety, and welfare may, under special circumstances require the use of limited amounts of OWASA drinking water for such purposes as washing out garbage trucks, cleaning up hazardous or other unsanitary materials, etc.
  • Encouraged developers to delay the installation of landscape features until a more appropriate time.
  • Used and continue to use OWASA reclaimed water in street sweeper for dust suppression.
  • Refrained from planting any winter flowers (2007/2008).
  • Postponed the planting of summer annuals in 2008.
  • Used and continue to use reclaimed water for any PW activities possible while the drought continues.
  • Discontinue filling the fountain in front of the Century Center.
  • Continue to design spring/summer plantings with drought tolerant plants.
  • Maintain adequate mulch levels in plant beds for water retention.
  • Weed plant beds more frequently to reduce competition for water.
  • Use only dry cut methods for concrete and asphalt repair (not utilizing water during cutting)
  • Installed 3 rain barrels at Town Hall and 2 rain barrels at the Town commons to help facilitate watering of nearby plant beds.  Public Works will be utilizing an existing 800 gallon container to collect rain water at Public Works.
  • Installed low flush toilet in women’s bathroom on first floor of Town Hall.
  • Installed low flow shower heads at Fire Dept, Police Dept. and Public Works.
  • Placed water displacement bottles and new flappers in conventional toilets at Fire Dept.
  • Installed flushless urinal in the Century Center as a pilot program.  The 08/09 proposed budget calls for the replacement of the remaining six (6) conventional urinals at the Century Center with flushless type urinals.
  • Staff is in the process of investigating the cost and feasibility of installing automatic faucets at Town facilities.
 Public Awareness 
  • Planning staff have been working with Chapel Hill and OWASA staff in an interlocal work group on water conservation to consider and develop water demand management strategies.
  • Town staff members from Police, Fire, and the Manager’s Office have joined with OWASA and Chapel Hill staff to discuss and implement strategies for disseminating public information about the drought.  The bullets below are all results of those meetings.
  • Signs have been placed in Town-owned facilities (bathrooms/break areas) to inform employees and public to conserve water.
  • Town staff have assisted OWASA in fabrication and placement of water restriction signs placed on public right-of-way and at Town facilities.
  • Town staff have placed magnetic signs (provided by OWASA) noting mandatory restrictions on town vehicles.
  • The Fire Department has been helping to distribute low flow shower heads and flapper valves provided by OWASA.
  • Drought information has been placed on the Town’s website and also on the Ch.18 bulletin board.

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