Gardening

Belmont to get green this spring – Gaston towns tired of being brown

Bowing to the pressure of local small businesses dependent on public water for their livelihoods, the Belmont City Council water committee has put forth a motion to ease water restrictions in the area.

Residents would be able to hand water, drip irrigate trees, shrubs, and personal gardens.  If approved, the watering could be done during the entire day on those three days. “I don’t mind the hand held watering,” said Councilman Charlie Flowers”.

This action is occurring while other Gaston county towns are also loosening restrictions.

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It seems that the “squeaky” (re: “leaky”) wheel gets the grease.  If City Council passes the recommendation, residents still will not be able to water their lawns.

Other communities throughout the state are still working on further restrictions and closely tracking water use, Belmont gets a bit a rain and Poof! – no more drought — in some eyes.

We admit there has been some improvement in the drought, but the area is still in what is considered exceptional drought conditions. Typically late February and the month of March are “catch up” months in regards to rain. Not this spring – so far.

A special meeting next Monday evening (6:30 PM) will have this discussion and vote. Interested people should attend this meeting and see how council members who have landscapers maintain their personal yards vote on this issue.

More information links: System Status for Belmont

Belmont Water Use Tables

Facility   

Basin    Pop    2008-03-10    2008-03-03    2008-02-25    2008-02-18   
Belmont Catawba River 8,974   1,676,143 1,605,571 1,668,286

Older table dates

Facility   

Basin    Pop    08-02-04    08-01-28    08-01-21    08-01-14    08-01-07   
Belmont Catawba River 8,974 1,545,286 1,672,429 1,685,857 1,568,714 1,744,143

Sure doesn’t look like water restrictions have affected Belmont’s use of water. Going back to an earlier article where the Belmont Front Porch reported on the growing practice of new wells being dug throughout the county, the County Health Department repudiated the charge that new wells were an issue with groundwater.

With this information, it seems that local “businesses” would not be affected — according to the County health department — just dig a well.

Good for business, keeps the businesses off the backs of elected “leaders”, and keeps the progeny of local councilmembers with their jobs.

It’s all good.

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North Belmont Elementary students learn about air pollution

Keep Belmont Beautiful continues to serve the community through education and involvement.

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A recent Gazette “submitted” article talked about a program delivered at North Belmont elementary school that was funded by a grant called, Planting the Seeds of Learning.  

We applaud the efforts of the small group of volunteers, all neighbors and friends, who give their time to help KBB in its education and prevention efforts throughout Belmont.

Volunteers can help, and they don’t have to wait for designated “cleanup” dates to get involved.

When walking through town, take a paper bag or a recycled plastic (ok, Walmart, yeah) bag and pick up bits of trash as you walk. You can call Keep Belmont Beautiful to report your time walking and trash-pickup efforts and receive volunteer “credit”. KBB also receives recognition from the Keep America Beautiful for the number of volunteers who become engaged in beautification efforts.

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So, how about it Belmont? Pick up a bit of trash as you gain fitness benefits by walking, and help keep this community we love clean and welcoming.

SBA Loans to businesses affected by drought

At the last city council meeting, two local business owners pleaded with the council members for relief from water use restrictions.

Hoagland Landscaping and Southern Roots (the former Low Meadows) expressed concern that the cities and towns of the region had a mish-mash of rules governing what could and could not be done during each particular Water Restriction level.

They reported that trade organizations were working with area governments to consider standardizing the rules across community lines.

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We agree with the suggestion and work to bring communities together for comprehensive guidelines regarding water use. The restrictions have created particular economic hardships to the hundreds of landscaping “companies” and nurseries that supply the community. In this instance, the drought is causing a shakeout of the landscapers in particular. The US Small Business Administration (SBA) began offering low-interest loans to businesses affected by the drought sometime last year. The shakeout of businesses that is occuring is a natural process of the market place in two levels. The first level are those businesses started as “sidelines” or supplemental jobs by folks such as firefighters, school teachers, and job-in-betweeners. Mainly folks who cut lawns and provide basic landscaping services. The second level are the true professionals who have made careers out of learning the trade and became proficient to have sustained the ups and downs of the industry.

We feel for both levels of providers. But again, there is temporary relief to help the rough spots. This document/flyer by the SBA could help those professionals over this weather-related hump.

As the rain last night and today remind us, God will provide. His timeframe and ours are not always the same. Balancing a precious resource such as freshwater with community sustainability versus a profit-making venture requires much discussion, debate, and cooperation.

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Orchid Conservatory at DSBG opens Saturday

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Observer Article

Charlotte Trip Magazine Article

The Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens (DSBG) are by far the coolest piece of the Gaston County sites to visit. Over time, the Gardens will be larger and more complete — there is a 40-year Master Plan for the site — world class by anyone’s standards. This was a privately funded project without government “partnership”. The late Daniel Stowe kick started and endowed the development of the Gardens with a donation of land and $14 million in the early 1990’s. All other development has been through private contributions and sponsorship.  

The unique destination sites that now border the City of Belmont are the US National Whitewater Center to the east (just over the river north of the I-85 weigh station) and the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens. Along with historical sites located throughout the county, Gaston is blessed with tourism resources that can rival many pleaces.

Good luck to the folks of the community who develop and market these facilities. Belmont certainly has taken a lead when it comes to developing intriquing places to visit.

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(Red Imperial Bromliad – one of 2,000 rare and exotic plant at DSBG)

Orchid links

 

Belmont Not Meeting Water Restriction Guidelines

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With Stage 3 water restrictions in place, Belmont must just be ignoring the severity of the drought.

In October, Governor Easley called on the municipalities throughout the state to cut water useage by 50%. According to the NC Drought Monitor, Belmont just isn’t meeting that goal.

gov-easley-water-consumption-monitor-10-22-07.pdf

Belmont’s average daily useage as of August 2007 was 2.4 million gallons per day.  

  12/10          12/3         11/26         11/19          11/12           11/5          10/29          10/22

-34.76% -29.97% -30.18% -29.48% -17.64% -19.66% -29.31% -33.75%

So, what’s up with that?

It is not as if the state hadn’t given communities guidelines or unreasonable expectations. Back in 2002, during the last drought,  the State passed HB 1215. Section 5 of House Bill 1215 required the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to evaluate water conservation measures being implemented in North Carolina and to identify incentive programs and other voluntary programs that can help foster water conservation, water reuse, and water use efficiency.

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At the last city council meeting, City Manager Barry Webb, spoke about the possible actions to “encourage” further water conservation, including a “temporary” water rate increase.

We all know that several businesses will be heavily impacted, and that those on “fixed incomes” will want exemptions right off the bat, if council seriously considers this added taxation.

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Belmont council talks higher fines for water use violations

water-tap.jpgfrom 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.

Bad news: Carolinas cheated out of rain again

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Rain Dance

by Steve Lyttle, Charlotte.com  

Forecasters say a combination of events will rob the Charlotte metro region and much of the Carolinas of what had been a strong chance for badly needed rain today.

Instead of a steady rain, we’ll be lucky to get a shower or two, they say.

But forecasters still hold out hope for Friday.

This is terrible news for the region, which is locked in one of the worst droughts in history. Charlotte is more than 13 inches below normal for rainfall this year, and mandatory water restrictions are in place across the area.

Today’s problem is a familiar story. It has happened at least four times since July.

A general area of low pressure has developed across the Southeast, and forecasters originally thought showery periods of rain would cross the region today. But instead, an area of strong thunderstorms is forming along the Gulf Coast, and that is robbing our region of moisture. In addition, the second center of the low pressure is moving to our north.

That leaves the Carolinas stuck in a relatively dry area between the two rainy areas.

It doesn’t mean we’ll be dry and sunny today. The atmosphere is very moist, and fog will be common in many area this morning. Skies will be mostly cloudy for the rest of the day, with high temperatures in the upper 70s and humid conditions.

On Friday, a frontal system will cross our area. Rodney Hinson, of the National Weather Service office in Greer, S.C., said that front is our next good chance for rainfall. Showers and thunderstorms are expected to develop along the front, with most of the precipitation expected to fall before 2 p.m.

Clearing is expected Friday evening and night, so the high school football games likely can be played without any problems.

Friday’s front will mean a pretty weekend.

Partly to mostly sunny skies are predicted, along with temperatures approaching 80 degrees both Saturday and Sunday.