Dependable Erection

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A de facto moratorium?

From the N&O:
Drought concerns prompted the City Council to delay a decision on whether to extend water and sewer service to a proposed subdivision near Southpoint shopping center.

The move could herald a broader conversation about whether the city should call a moratorium on all development as Durham grapples with a severe water shortage.

Even if council had approved the extension, Jordan at Southpointe, a 228-unit subdivision, still would need approval from the Development Review Board.

But council members weren't comfortable taking even one step toward sanctioning a new large development without first getting some sense of what it would mean to rapidly depleting water supplies.

We asked six weeks ago whether our elected officials ought to declare a moratorium on new residential and commercial construction until we had keep a 6 month supply of water on hand for an extended period of time.

Somewhere over the last 24 hours, i've read that by some definitions, the Piedmont has been in drought since 1998, with only a couple of tropical storms breaking the shortfall. (if you saw that too, post a link in the comments please. i'm trying to track the source of that quote down also.) If that's the case, it might not be a bad idea to formalize this de facto moratorium.

UPDATE: John points me to the article i was looking for in the N&O. I for one am interested in hearing more about this hypothesis.

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  • Barry, here's a reference from the N&O...

    "[Gene] Brown noted an expert who told the council recently that the region really has been in a drought since 1998, but two large hurricanes during that span lessened the effect until now." (article below).

    Gene was referring to Syd Miller at Triangle J Council of governments.

    Had lunch with Syd recently and he pointed out that we shouldn't just look at the deficit for this calendar year. Rather, we should look at the cumulative deficits we've experienced over the past several years.

    ~John Schelp


    Council to focus on water
    By Matt Dees, N&O, 4 Dec 2007

    Addressing an unprecedented drought will be the main challenge of 2008 for the Durham City Council, several members said at Monday's swearing-in ceremony.
    Both Mayor Bill Bell and council member Eugene Brown, who began fresh terms along with Farad Ali and Diane Catotti, stressed the need for a comprehensive plan to find new water and conserve existing sources.

    "By nature, I am not an alarmist," Brown said after taking the oath for his second term. "But as a recently re-elected council member, I believe it is time to sound the alarm and to act."

    Durham is down to 52 days in its "premium" water supply. The city is working to tap other sources, such as Jordan Lake and a local quarry, but that will cost money.

    Officials estimate it will cost $49 million over the next two years to connect to the new sources. That's money they had planned to spend several years down the road, but the severity of the drought has them expediting the schedule.

    Both Bell and Brown said the city hasn't treated past droughts as seriously as they should have.

    Brown noted an expert who told the council recently that the region really has been in a drought since 1998, but two large hurricanes during that span lessened the effect until now.

    Bell said conservation must become "the rule rather than the exception," and Brown called for harsher penalties for violators.

    "We have relied probably too much on our past experiences in guiding our actions and reactions to this problem," said Bell, who began his fourth term.

    Bell said the council would begin discussions of a comprehensive water plan at its work session Thursday at 1 p.m. at City Hall...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:57 AM  

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