Wells

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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“Keep It Clean, We All Live Downstream”

The new brochure given out by the City of Belmont Stormwater Management program. Came in the mail with the water bills:

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(How a stormwater detention pond works)

Yes, one of the unfunded federal mandated programs that the cities were left to figure out how to fund and enforce.

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Well, really, to be fair, there have been some funding “streams” from the feds and state that cities can “match” with local efforts.  

But, Belmont and other communities got most of it right by the use of Stormwater Fees and better planning methods to retain runoff caused by new development. Impact fees have also helped, but as much as communities raise those fees, developers keep proposing projects.

Good planning (which Belmont is getting better at year-by-year) and tightening the local ordinances are helping to slow the runoff caused by development within the watershed area of the Catawba and South Fork rivers. With urbanization — heavens, that’s happening here? — comes the effects that run down the street, into the sewers, and directly into the rivers.

Well, many of us purchased homes that have been here since back in the day… and like it or not, we need to help try to keep our drinking water source as clean as can be for everyone – yup, even the dreaded newcomers. Wouldn’t be neighborly if all of a sudden the new people in them rich houses started to get sick on a count of our grass clippings making algae around the intakes now would it?  

Go on back up in the article to read about ways we all can help to keep our runoff cleaner. We particularly like the suggestion #2, Washing Your Vehicle. the flyer suggests that we pull the car onto the lawn to wash, where the soapy water will fall on the grass and be filtered as it drains. It won’t harm the lawn it suggests. Well, what happens if you don’t have much yard? – like in Hawthorne or Adams Bluff – and, what about the ruts in the lawn?

Oh well, don’t have to worry ’bout that right now – we are NOT supposed to be washing cars anyway because of the DROUGHT. Oh, of course, it’s ok if you have an irrigation well though, right – Eagle Park, Graystone, Belle Meade, and Glenmere?

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Anyway, We all need to do our best to help the stormwater management process work — for our health, and for the health of our neighbors downstream as well.

Fun source of information on stormwater management processes, just click on the picture under the linked article.

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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Keep Belmont Beautiful helps students learn about water conservation

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Keep Belmont Beautiful, an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, has been using the proceeds from a Community Foundation Grant to help educate third graders in Belmont about environmental issues.

This grant, entitled Planting the Seeds of Learning, is being used to provide a monthly program to North Belmont and Belmont Central Elementary students.

October’s program was on water conservation, and children learned tips for conserving water, current levels of rainfall, and the mandated water restrictions by the City of Belmont. They all received a 30-minute program on water conservation tips and were given copies of water conservation tips to take home and a word search and coloring section on water conservation. All third grade classes were given presentations by Carolyn Sly on how to construct a compost pile, each class room receiving all of the equipment to build it.

Keep Belmont Beautiful educates and involves the community in litter and waste reduction, recycling, beautification and natural resources conservation.

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(KBB photo – Carolyn Sly in Classroom)
 

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.

Blessed be the Riverkeeper

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Donna Lisenby, the Catawba riverkeeper, considered by many who live along the river basin to be a hero of sorts, has discovered and reported the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities Department (CMUD) for “secret” wastewater releases.

WCNC and the Charlotte Observer are reporting that the FBI and EPA are investigating release practices by CMUD workers at the McAlpine Creek plant.

This water flows downstream and empties into Lake Wylie, where many of Belmont’s neighbors and friends live and play.

The reports, last night and this morning, coincide with a series of articles that the Observer is publishing on the Catawba River Chain of Lakes and its impact on the region.

We live in a fragile ecosystem that can easily be disrupted by weather patterns (drought, floods), development rates (run-off, sediment build up, pollutants entering the system), and over use (recreation access, draw down of water for municipal systems).

We are supportive of the Riverkeeper’s watchful eye, outspoken behaviors, and dogged determination.  

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Water Restrictions are Serious Business – Please Follow Instructions

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(Charlotte Observer Photo)

Imagine the arrogance of people who think that well water doesn’t affect a community’s ability to conserve its resources.

The city, towns, villages, and county tells you about Stage Restrictions — currently Stage 3, Mandatory — and what do people do? Contract with well-diggers to give themselves a “free source” of water. That recent article (October 11) in the Charlotte Observer, led to a series of letters to the editor that were critical of the practice, give us hope here on the Belmont Front Porch, that not all people are so ignorant or crazy, or both.  

Here in Belmont, we have more than one neighborhood that purports to be using well-water for irrigation. This practice must stop !

There have been reports of frantic neighbors here in Gaston County calling insurance companies, well-drilling companies, and county officials about their “dried up wells”. Alledgedly,  Gaston County staffers have told property owners that their only resolution is to “drill deeper”.

The Observer published a graphic that shows the impact of wells on the aquifer.

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We have also published a portion of an article by the US Geological Survey about the relationship of Ground Water and Surface Water. The full article can be retrieved from this link: USGS 

The Effect of Ground-Water Withdrawals on Surface Water

Withdrawing water from shallow aquifers that are directly connected to surface-water bodies can have a significant effect on the movement of water between these two water bodies. The effects of pumping a single well or a small group of wells on the hydrologic regime are local in scale. However, the effects of many wells withdrawing water from an aquifer over large areas may be regional in scale.

Withdrawing water from shallow aquifers for public and domestic water supply, irrigation, and industrial uses is widespread. Withdrawing water from shallow aquifers near surface-water bodies can diminish the available surface-water supply by capturing some of the ground-water flow that otherwise would have discharged to surface water or by inducing flow from surface water into the surrounding aquifer system. An analysis of the sources of water to a pumping well in a shallow aquifer that discharges to a stream is provided here to gain insight into how a pumping well can change the quantity and direction of flow between the shallow aquifer and the stream. Furthermore, changes in the direction of flow between the two water bodies can affect transport of contaminants associated with the moving water. Although a stream is used in the example, the results apply to all surface-water bodies, including lakes and wetlands.

A ground-water system under predevelopment conditions is in a state of dynamic equilibrium-for example, recharge at the water table is equal to ground-water discharge to a stream (Figure C-1A). Assume a well is installed and is pumped continually at a rate, Q1. After a new state of dynamic equilibrium is achieved, inflow to the ground-water system from recharge will equal outflow to the stream plus the withdrawal from the well. In this new equilibrium, some of the ground water that would have discharged to the stream is intercepted by the well, and a ground-water divide, which is a line separating directions of flow, is established locally between the well and the stream (Figure C-1B). If the well is pumped at a higher rate, Q2, at a later time a new equilibrium is reached. Under this condition, the ground-water divide between the well and the stream is no longer present and withdrawals from the well induce movement of water from the stream into the aquifer (Figure C-1C). Thus, pumpage reverses the hydrologic condition of the stream in this reach from a ground-water discharge feature to a ground-water recharge feature.

In the hydrologic system depicted in Figures C-1A and C-1B, the quality of the stream water generally will have little effect on the quality of the shallow ground water. However, in the case of the well pumping at the higher rate, Q2 (Figure C-1C), the quality of the stream water, which locally recharges the shallow aquifer, can affect the quality of ground water between the well and the stream as well as the quality of the ground water withdrawn from the well.

This hypothetical withdrawal of water from a shallow aquifer that discharges to a nearby surface-water body is a simplified but compelling illustration of the concept that ground water and surface water are one resource. In the long term, the quantity of ground water withdrawn is approximately equal to the reduction in streamflow that is potentially available to downstream users.

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(USGS graphic)

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