Durham keeps lid on water for now

Stage Four water restrictions probably will stay in place for the foreseeable future, City Manager Patrick Baker said Friday, even though Durham now has about a year's worth of water.

But he left the door open for allowing limited irrigation sometime soon.

Baker said his staff would convene to discuss that next week, after observing the results of an expected storm today.

"Although I'd like to say the weather patterns have gone back to normal, we really don't know if what happened last week was a blip on the radar screen and the next three months are going to be really dry," Baker said. Two storms last week added months to Durham's water supply.

Baker also said the city plans to stop buying water from Cary within two weeks.

Durham has bought about 2 million gallons a day from Cary, drawn from Jordan Lake, for the past several months. Baker wasn't sure of the figure, but said the city has paid upward of $300,000 to Cary.

David Rollins, 39, a Durham investment banker, said he

doesn't think the restrictions have done much good, noting that recent consumption compared with last year is down about 10 percent.

As spring approaches, he said the city should let people start watering lawns and washing cars.

"I can understand why they would be reluctant," Rollins said. "But the reservoirs are basically full. I say we may as well ease off the restrictions."

As of Friday, Lake Michie reservoir was full, and Little River Reservoir was about 3, feet short.

Baker said during the droughts of 2001 and 2002, water consumption returned to normal after some rains replenished the reservoirs. The city is wary of making the same mistake twice.

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