U.S. Water News Online
ASHEVILLE, N.C. — North Carolina water officials have said 55 towns haven't filed a required water conservation plan and eventually could face a penalty up to $10,000 a month.
A law passed last year requires the plans to be filed by July 1. The Asheville Citizen-Times reported that towns without their own plan must follow state conservation rules when restrictions are imposed.
Spokesman Jamie Kritzer at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said some towns can't be fined until after Dec. 1, according to the new law that was signed this summer by Gov. Mike Easley. The law gives the state authority for the first time to review local conservation plans.
Some towns have filed plans but didn't update them, he said.
"These are all towns that are in either exceptional or extreme drought, the worst categories," Kritzer said.
Western North Carolina has the driest areas and the town of Marshall has ordered mandatory restrictions after one of its three wells dried up. State officials are expediting permits to get a new well for the town.
"The purpose is to have measures in place that will protect the water supply in times of serious drought," Tom Reeder, director of the N.C. Division of Water Resources, said in a written statement. "If each water system takes steps to conserve, we can reduce the risk of a water shortage emergency."
Officials in three western North Carolina towns said they hadn't received a letter from the state, although two of the municipalities — Marshall and Robbinsville — have implemented mandatory water conservation plans.
Neil Carpenter, district manager for the Maggie Valley Sanitary District, said his plan wasn't in the proper format so the data is being transferred to one that is state-approved.
Carpenter said there are no plans yet for mandatory restrictions.
"We are holding OK," he said. "We don't know what tomorrow holds."
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