Duke Energy is again ratcheting up restrictions on water use by lakeside residents.
As water levels continue to drop due to the severe drought, Duke Energy officials announced Wednesday they are banning residents from pumping Lake Norman water entirely.
Two weeks after Duke imposed the first-ever restrictions on the practice, limiting it to just two days a week, officials for the energy company said in a statement all pumping must be discontinued after Sept. 25, 2007.
Repeat violators could have access to the lake restricted for up to five years, following guidelines enacted shortly after the first restrictions were announced Sept. 5. If caught for the first time, offenders will receive a warning and Duke may take legal action to have the pumps removed from the shoreline.
The decision comes one day after the Catawba-Wateree Drought Management Advisory Group recommended this week to stop lawn watering and hold off on new lawn work as it is considered one of the largest drains on the regional water system.
Duke officials said if the dry weather continues, they will consider moving from stage two conditions to stage three in early October. Neither stage has ever been declared in the history of the company.
Representatives have said they estimated half of the 12,000 residents who live around the lake own lake pumps. On average, the low-horsepower pumps draw between 10 and 12 gallons a minute, officials have said.
The company manages the basin and Lake Norman, the countyâ€™s primary source of water. While the county enacted a mandatory ban Aug. 13 on all lawn watering –except in Lincolnton which receives water from the city â€“ Duke allowed residents to legally continue pumping until Aug. 27 when they moved to stage two mandatory restrictions.
Duke will continue to monitor for lake pumping as part of their weekly patrols, officials said. So far, the company said all residents seem to be complying with the new rules.
by Olin Ericksen