Durham scales back its water watch

Reservoirs near normal levels after rainfall; efficient consumption still urged

Staff WriterDecember 21, 2005 

Less than a week after ending mandatory water restrictions, Durham has rolled back its voluntary conservation efforts to Stage I -- the lowest level available to the city.

City officials said recent rainfall had fully replenished its reservoir at Lake Michie over the weekend. The city's second impoundment at Little River Lake is now less that 5 feet below full, a level considered normal for this time of year. A month ago, both lakes had largely disappeared, leaving wide rings of cracked mud and new grass.

"With the lake levels at or near normal for this time of year, we feel that the Stage II requirements are no longer necessary," City Manager Patrick Baker said in a written statement Tuesday. "We would like to thank our residents for helping to reduce their consumption and help extend our available water supply through this fall's drought. We are also confident that our residents will continue to use Durham's water resources efficiently."

With its reservoirs drained to less than a two-month supply, Durham instituted mandatory Stage III restrictions Nov. 7 that banned watering lawns except during prescribed times and washing cars, among other measures.

The city says it had an average daily reduction of 13.5 percent in water use under the strict rules, and it ended the mandatory rules Friday, reverting to voluntary curbs with Stage II.

Stage I, which is in effect year-round, encourages residents to check fixtures for leaks, 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 also are encouraged to limit the use of clothes washers and dishwashers and to only wash full loads.

Staff writer Michael Biesecker can be reached at 956-2421 or mbieseck@newsobserver.com.

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