Water main fix means some restrictions lifted

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities officials announced Thursday that the weekend watering ban for customers south of Interstate 85 will be lifted at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

A broken 54-inch water main off Providence Road forced officials to prohibit those customers from lawn watering, residential car washing and pool or fountain filling last weekend.

That water main has been back in service since late Wednesday, allowing officials to remove the weekend ban.

All customers are now allowed one weekend day of outdoor water use. Customers with odd-numbered addresses may water lawns, wash cars and fill pools or fountains on Saturdays; customers with even addresses can water Sundays.

Utilities officials remind customers that their watering days end at midnight.

Restrictions are still in place Monday through Friday. They are a result of the drought that has plagued the Charlotte area for over a year. Conditions are not likely to improve during the hot summer months.

“We have to also be prepared for these restrictions to stay in place for several weeks more, possibly several months more,” said Vic Simpson, spokesman for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities.

Mecklenburg is one of 26 N.C. counties under extreme drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Fourteen counties are under exceptional drought conditions, the most severe rating.

The National Weather Service is predicting lower-than-average rainfall for the next several weeks. To date, rainfall in 2008 has been about 9 inches below normal.

The Catawba-Wateree Drought Management Advisory Group said Wednesday that it recommends continuing with the current restrictions.

The entire Catawba Basin, which includes much of Mecklenburg County, is in Stage 3 drought.