Community meeting on proposed OWASA conservation rules

Via e-mail:

Orange Water and Sewer Authority

NEWS RELEASE     September 11, 2008

OWASA invites comments on proposed changes to water conservation requirements

on Wednesday, September 24th at 7 PM
Based on customers’ feedback and experience in the drought of 2007-08, OWASA has drafted and will seek public comments on potential changes to its water conservation requirements.

OWASA staff will host a community meeting on Wednesday, September 24th at 7:00 PM to receive comments and questions from OWASA customers and other interested stakeholders. The meeting will be in the Community Room on the lower floor of the OWASA Administration Building, 400 Jones Ferry Road, Carrboro (near the intersection of Barnes Street and Jones Ferry Road).

“The proposed changes are intended to give customers more flexibility and to put greater reliance on our water rates to encourage conservation,” said Ed Holland, OWASA’s Planning Director.

“One of the frequent comments we received during the drought and various stages of water use restrictions was ‘Don’t tell us how to use OWASA water. Just tell us how much it’s going to cost, and let us decide how to use it,’” Holland said.

Key proposals:

Some of the key changes under consideration are:

ü  Greater flexibility for irrigation of “Public Purpose Athletic and Recreational Fields” and “Public Purpose Botanical Sites” for which OWASA approves a watering plan. Public facilities are now subject to the same irrigation restrictions as private properties.

ü  Spray irrigation restrictions would be relaxed for non-turf vegetation such as trees, shrubs and gardens, which are now subject to limits on days of week, hours, etc.  The current spray irrigation limit of 1 inch per week would continue to apply to grass (turf).


ü  Drip irrigation, underground hose emitters, soaker hose, hand watering, and other non-spray irrigation would be allowed at any time, duration, and frequency except during a Water Supply Emergency, when all irrigation would be prohibited.  Greater flexibility is proposed because it is impractical to know when non-spray irrigation meets or exceeds the current limit of 1 inch per week (1/2 inch per week under certain shortage conditions).


ü  Spray irrigation of turf would be allowed during normal water supply conditions before 10:00 AM and after 6:00 PM three days per week (depending on odd or even address). Spray irrigation is now permitted before 9:00 AM and after 8:00 PM three days a week under normal conditions.


ü  Swimming pools could be filled, refilled, or topped off at any time except during a Water Supply Emergency regardless of whether the pool is public or private. OWASA has determined that swimming pools account for a small fraction of outdoor water use. Under current standards, restrictions for pools begin in a Stage 2 water shortage.


For more detailed information, including the specific wording of proposed changes, please visit http://www.owasa.org/agenda/UploadedFiles/2008/Parts_08-28-2008/Item11.pdf on the OWASA website to read a report to the OWASA Board of Directors on August 28th, or contact OWASA at 968-4421 or webmaster@owasa.org.


Citizens who wish to receive electronic updates on the consideration of changes to the conservation standards and related items are invited to send a short note to webmaster@owasa.org to be added to OWASA’s electronic news list.


Process for consideration and action on OWASA’s water conservation standards


Sometime after the Sept. 24th community meeting (date still to be determined), the OWASA Board of Directors will make decisions on changes to the utility’s conservation standards and will make recommendations to the Towns of Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Orange County for changes in their water conservation ordinances.


OWASA will publicize the dates of future OWASA Board meetings when the proposed changes in conservation standards will be scheduled for discussion.


For more Information:


Ed Holland, AICP, Planning Director, 537-4215; e-mail: eholland@owasa.org


Patrick Davis, Utility Manager Generalist, 537-4210; e-mail: pdavis@owasa.org


Greg Feller, Public Affairs, 537-4267; e-mail: gfeller@owasa.org
OWASA is the community-owned, non-profit public water and sewer agency serving the Carrboro-Chapel Hill community.



PHONE: (919) 968-4421; FAX: (919) 968-4464




Wednesday, September 24, 2008 - 3:00pm


Community Room, OWASA Administration Building, 400 Jones Ferry Road, Carrboro

OWASA eyeing Jordan Lake water

Having just read this article (http://www.newsobserver.com/news/orange/story/1103191.html) I do not know how I feel about this issue. On one and Jordan Lake seems to be a rather large body of water. So, why not tap into it?

On the other hand, it is a fixed source of water and as I look around I see many people and institutions waste this precious resource (water). Let's use the water that we have responsibly first. Then, when we need more, tap into other sources. I am leaning towards this idea.

Potential Jordan Lake intake for OWASA, Durham, & Chatham

OWASA, Durham, & Chatham County have agreed to jointly explore the possibility of installing a water intake on the west shore of Jordan Lake where OWASA owns property. Our local Orange County governments have some misgivings about the project and these were discussed at the Orange County Assembly of Governments meeting last night, which was also attended by Durham Mayor Bill Bell and Chatham County Commission Chair George Lucier. The following is a statement that I prepared for presentation at that meeting. (I actually ended up talking off the cuff to avoid repeating points that others had previously made.)

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.

Water, Water, Not Everywhere

As the weather warms but the drought persists, we're reading more and more concern about swimming pools. I've been trying to figure out whether a distinction between public and private residential pools exists or is under consideration. The media get quotes or sound bites from places like the Meadowmont Pool or the Y, expressing great concern about what will happen over the summer. Meanwhile, I'm only seeing generic comments about not filling or topping off residential pools -- to the effect that if you can't top off, the pool becomes unusable.



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