Carrboro/Chapel Hill Leads By Example But Still Has to Bail Out Durham?

I am all for lending my fellow brother a helping hand, but not if my brother expects the handout without making the necessary changes needed to prevent further bailouts.  For months, citizens of Chapel Hill/Carrboro have bit the bullet and took necessary action to conserve water during the drought.  As we watched our gardens wilt and our vehicles dust over, our Durham neighbors still washed their cars and hand-watered their lawns. We silently noted the limited supply of our Farmer's Markets while still supporting our struggling farmers, and while we grew impatient with the restrictions, we gain perspective every time we passed a sign in town reminding us to conserve. Perhaps the rumors are true, and Carrboro/Chapel Hill is the hippie,green cousin of our Durham city, and therefore able to embrace green incentives easier, but as they laughed at our progressiveness, Durham held out a bucket and asked for us to fill it up. Our supply is still barely half full, and OWASA is upholding Stage 3 restrictions, but my patience is wearing thin for my Durham neighbors when I see a gas station car wash being used in Durham that is not using recycled water!

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.

Years of Planning Down the Drain?

I was glad to read in Lisa Sorg's article in the Independent ( www.indyweek.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A168911 ) a couple of weeks ago that OWASA is contemplating emergency back-up plans for providing water to Chapel Hill and Carrboro.  But I was concerned to read that one of the options under consideration is the construction of a new water-intake at Jordan Lake.

While we all hope that the drought will break before we run out of water, it is only prudent to consider what our back-up plans will be.  Even with more drastic mandatory conservation measures on the way next week ( http://owasa.org/Press_Releases/press_release_20080218.pdf ), it is possible (but not likely) that our water supply could run out.

"What is the State of Our Local Water Supply?"

The OWASA Board has called a public forum on Thursday night, January 24th, regarding “The State of Our Local Water Supply” to inform the public and receive customers’ questions and feedback concerning about:
  • Local water supply and demand and weather forecasts for coming months;
  • Short and long-term financial implications and strategies for the drought;
  • The options, costs and timetable for addressing the “Worst Case” drought scenario (no rainfall for many months); and
  • Proposed changes in OWASA’s water conservation standards and parallel local water conservation ordinances to further limit outdoor irrigation in Stage Two and Stage Three water shortages. (Stage Two restrictions are now in effect.) The proposed changes would generally prohibit irrigation with hand-held hoses, soaker hoses, drip irrigation and micro-spray systems in Stage Two and all irrigation with OWASA drinking water would be prohibited in Stage Three.


Thursday, January 24, 2008 - 2:00pm to 4:00pm


Chapel Hill Town Hall

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.



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