from the Tuesday Gazette:Belmont Councilman Irl Dixon said the city should consider increasing fines for water violations, if a higher level of water conservation becomes necessary.And that time could come as soon as next month, City Manager Barry Webb told City Council at its meeting Monday.Webb said Duke Energy told members of the Catawba-Wateree Water Management Group at a meeting Friday that recent rain improved storage in the basin slightly. But, if the area doesn’t get more rain soon, Stage IV water restrictions could be imposed by mid-December or early January, he said.
“If we go into another stage, I think we need to go to heavier fines,” Dixon said.
Current Stage III fines for water violations start at $100.
According to city staff, some Belmont water users have been fined for watering lawns in the middle of the night. Dixon and Belmont Utilities Director Chuck Flowers said they have both seen several Belmont lawns that appear to be getting water.
“I know this stuff is going on. People are going out at two or three in the morning to water their grass,” Dixon said.
According to Webb, Belmont currently has the most restrictive ordinance in place for water conservation during drought conditions. Rules applied to the different stages of drought conservation vary for each municipal utility, though they all have the same goal of reducing water use by a certain percentage. Other cities in the Catawba chain have more lenient restrictions in place, Webb said.
“We’re probably stricter than anybody right now,” Webb said.
As part of the drought discussion, Webb said Duke Energy also presented a worse case scenario, projecting that usable water in the basin could become depleted by mid-March, if rainfall remains scarce. That means some water intakes in the Catawba chain would begin to lose the ability to draw water, he said.
That scenario is improbable, but just in case, Belmont is talking to the cities of Gastonia and Mount Holly about line connections to pump water to Belmont customers in an emergency, Webb said.
“If the worse case scenario happens, we’re going to have options to meet our needs,” Webb said.
You can reach Daniel Jackson at (704) 869-1833.