Dependable Erection

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Durham moves to Stage IV mandatory water use restrictions

As Ray Gronberg in the Herald Sun and Kevin at BCR reported earlier, the City of Durham announced a few minutes ago that Stage IV mandatory water use restrictions will be in effect beinning Monday, December 3.

Stage IV increases the goal of reducing water use to 50%, from the 30% reduction in Stage III.

From what we can tell by reading the city's website, the reduction is calculated from a baseline of just before restrictions were introduced, not from an equivalent period from a year ago. The website indicates that water usage in Durham has dropped year over year from 25.8 million gallons per day (mgd) to 23.7 mgd, or about 8.1%. Elsewhere on the site the claim is made that water use has been reduced by 28%, so clearly we're not looking at year over year figures. Since this September was one of the hottest on record, it should be pretty easy to get to numbers siginificantly below that baseline.

Our biggest question remains in dealing with those entities that have been given exemptions from the ban on outdoor watering, etc. About 70 or so exemption have been granted, including one to Duke University which allowed the athletic department to water artificially surfaced playing fields. According to the city,
Customers may secure a written license from the city manager (or his designee) to use water contrary to the Stage III mandatory conservation measures if it can be shown to the manager's satisfaction that the licensee's use of water will result in an overall thirty (30) percent or greater reduction in water use.
(emphasis added)

According to Ray's article, entities with a Stage III exemption will have to reapply for a stage IV exemption. The city should be making sure that those applying have in fact complied with the 30% reduction requirements before extending these exemptions to Stage IV. We've been asking, along with other citizens, for the city to show whether they've confirmed that exempt entities are in fact in compliance. That's a question that should be answered ASAP.



  • You're absolutely right, Barry. The City of Durham should make sure that the entities who are now applying for new Stage IV exemptions have in fact already complied with the 30% reduction requirements.

    By Anonymous John Schelp, at 3:36 PM  

  • And don't forget, given that Duke's average water use is 1.7 million gallons a day we'd expected to see a savings of about 500,000 gallons from Duke alone.

    By Blogger steve, at 3:51 PM  

  • I agree with the comments about the exemptions---let's see the evidence of compliance from Duke and the other large users.

    That said, I'm disappointed in the citizens of Durham. I thought we could do a lot better. The numbers imply that most of us haven't done anything to reduce water consumption.

    By Anonymous steve bocckino, at 5:21 PM  

  • I'll be honest, Steve. I'm not sure how much less water i can actually use.

    without seeing a breakout showing residential water use vs commercial, industrial, or agricultural use (which may very well be out there, just not in a place that i've stumbled across it) it's hard to know where we can do better.

    i've mentioned before living in the Central Valley during the water rationing years in the early 90s. At that time, a standard ration for a family of 4 was 28 units a month, or about 700 gallons a day. We managed, with 2 small children, to keep our usage at around 7 units a month, or 175 gallons a day.

    Now, with 2 adults and a teenager in the house, i think we're running between 3 and 4 units a month, or about 100 gallons a day. I don't know where that puts us as far as the average household goes.

    Rationing in California was based on the previous year's usage. So people who had been profligate with water ended getting higher allotments than people who had already been frugal in their practices before rationing. We moved into a house that had been empty for a year before rationing kicked in. Our original allotment, based on that usage, was zero. After we appealed, we were given a 28 unit a month ration as a baseline. As i said, reducing that by 75% was easy. Reducing our current usage by much more than another 10 or 15 gallons a day is going to be very hard.

    By Blogger Barry Ragin, at 6:05 PM  

  • Barry,

    Blogger ate my first post...

    Shorter version: I'd like to see the res/nonres breakdown and I'd also like to see what the per capita res consumption is.

    Ours was 50 gallons/day/person on the last bill, down by about 1/3 from previous bills, but still too high. We're watching the water meter, and I think we'll do better in the next bill.

    By Anonymous steve bocckino, at 2:51 PM  

  • Steve - i think that 35 - 40 gallons a day per person is about as low as you're going to get, unless you're eating all of your meals out. Even a low flush toilet has got to be flushed a couple of times a day, you've got to take a shower most days of the week, and wash your hands occasionally as well. Then you've got to wash your clothes once a week or so, make a pot of coffee in the morning, and if you're like me, you need to run a humidifier during the months when the heating system is also running. And if you're cooking and eating at home, even using paper plates, you've got to wash out the pots and pans pretty regularly.

    Also, don't forget that water billing is done by the unit, which is about 785 or so gallons. I don't think Durham uses fractional billing, so it's hard to get a truly precise measure of how much water you've actually used. I guess the bi-monthly billing is supposed to help with the rounding errors that can creep in with billing by such a coarse unit of measurement.

    Good luck squeezing those last little bits out of your water usage.

    By Blogger Barry Ragin, at 3:17 PM  

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