::Raleigh Raising Water Prices By 9%
From Raleigh Chronicle Staff And Wire Reports
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
RALEIGH - The City of Raleigh, facing increasing demands on its limited water supply, proposes to raise water rates by nine percent according to budget plans. The city has also passed new year round water restrictions for all water customers that go into effect on July 2nd.
Some have criticized the city for making the decision to sell water to other cities, especially when the city's own water supplies are in doubt.
However, the new increases in water costs and also the tougher water restrictions will apply to those customers outside of Raleigh as well.
Water Rates: Proposed 9% Increase
Although not approved yet, City Manager Russell Allen has proposed a city budget to be approved by the council that includes a nine percent water rate increase. The increase would apply to both consumer and industrial customers.
In addition to the water increase, the city has also proposed a nine percent increases in the city's sewer rates.
Generally, the city council rarely changes items that are in the budget outlines proposed by the city manager, so it is likely that the proposed increase will be approved. By state law, the city budget must be approved by July 1st.
"These increases are in keeping with the water and sewer rate model approved by the city council in FY2005 to fund a significant capital improvement program," says the city in budget statements to the media.
In addition to the proposed water increases, the Raleigh City Council voted unanimously on May 15th to approve year-round lawn irrigation water conservation measures that begin this summer on July 2nd.
According to the city, the new rules will apply to city water customers who use automatic and non-automatic irrigation systems and garden hose-attached sprinklers to water their lawns.
Starting on July 2nd, residents with these non-attended systems who have odd numbered addresses will be allowed to water their lawns and outdoor plants on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Even-numbered addresses can water on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
No lawn irrigation using automatic or non-automatic irrigation systems or hose-attached sprinklers will be allowed on Monday.
However, residents who use hand-held hoses and are basically "human-supervising" their watering will be exempt from the year-round rules and can water lawns and outdoor plants at anytime.
The new rules will apply to all city of Raleigh water customers and other towns who buy their water from Raleigh such as Garner, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Knightdale, Wendell and Zebulon.
Penalties are upgraded for each violation, says the city. A written warning notice will be issued for a first violation of the new year-round water restrictions, with a second violation resulting in a $50 fine, and a third violation would result in a $200 civil penalty.
The city says that a fourth violation would be the termination of the customer's water service, which may be a heavy price to pay for having a green lawn.
According to the city, several North Carolina municipalities already have similar sprinkler restrictions, including Cary, Greensboro and Fayetteville. Some are seasonal lawn irrigation restrictions while others, like the one Raleigh has adopted, are year-round.
Raleigh water customers are currently under voluntary conservation measures.
New Drought Measures
In addition to year-round lawn irrigation water conservation measures, the city says that the City Council also approved tougher Stage 1 and Stage 2 mandatory conservation rules that would be implemented in times of severe drought.
Under Stage 1 rules, watering with automatic or non-automatic spray irrigation systems or with hose-end sprinklers would be restricted to one day per week --- Tuesday for residents with odd-numbered addresses and Wednesday for even-numbered addresses.
Also, Raleigh water customers would be restricted to washing their vehicles only on Saturday and Sunday, but commercial car washing locations would be exempt.
Also, with the new Stage 2 rules, all types of outdoor watering would be prohibited.
Although these restrictions are in place, those that use so-called "reclaimed" water that is collected from rainwater or other water run-off would be exempt from all of these rules. Some homeowners have added "rain-buckets" at the end of their rain gutters and down-spouts to collect such water for that use.
Again, under Stage 2 rules, vehicles could be washed only at commercial car wash facilities that are certified by the city of Raleigh for water conservation practices, say officials.
The City could initiate Stage 1 mandatory water conservation rules when the water capacity at Falls Lake, Raleigh's primary water source, is at 70 percent or less.
Stage 2 rules could start if capacity is at 50 percent or lower, says the city. ::