Water Shortage Response Plan

The City of Lenoir partners with Duke Energy and other large water users and withdrawers in the Catawba-Wateree River basin to ensuring that an abundant water supply is available to communities along the river.

Part of Lenoir's commitment includes a Water Shortage Response Plan, which directs the City's response to droughts in the basin. The plan outlines when and how the City of Lenoir will respond and what requirements will be places on customers during certain drought conditions.

The City of Lenoir is required by NCGS 143-355(l) to develop and implement water conservation measures to respond to drought and other water shortage conditions. The Water Shortage Response Plan is required to be updated every five years and adopted by the City Council. The plan was adopted July 18, 2023.

Click the link below to download the plan:

City of Lenoir, North Carolina 
Water Shortage Response Plan 

l. Definitions

(a.) Water Shortage

The term "water shortage" shall be defined as any condition or situation which threatens the safety or supply of either treated or potable water within the water supply, treatment or distribution systems of the city or within the systems of the municipal, commercial or industrial customers. The City Manager or his/her designee shall determine whether specific situations are considered to be water shortages, after consultation with the Director of Public Services or his/her designee . Water shortage situations shall include, but are not limited to, drought, or periods of insufficient raw water supply, and fires of a magnitude, such that system integrity is threatened.

(b.) Drought Management Advisory Group (DMAG) / Low Inflow Protocol (LIP)

The Drought Management Advisory Group (DMAG) is a team of owners of large water intakes in the Catawba River Basin, state agencies, and Duke Energy, tasked with formulating a basin wide response to low flow conditions, as defined in the Low Inflow Protocol (LIP). Low Inflow Protocol (LIP) means prescribed levels of escalating response to drought conditions based on trigger points for use during periods of low inflow to the reservoirs on the Catawba River.

II. Authorization

The Lenoir City Manager shall enact the following water shortage response provisions whenever the trigger conditions outlined in section IV are met. In his or her absence, the Public Services Director or Utilities Operations Manager will assume this role.

III. Notification

The following notification methods will be used to inform water system employees and customers of a water shortage declaration: employee e-mail announcements, notices at municipal buildings, notices in water bills and on the City of Lenoir website (http://www.cityoflenoir.com). Required water shortage response measures will be communicated through The Lenoir News Topic, PSA announcements on local radio and cable stations and on the City of Lenoir website. Declaration of emergency water restrictions or water rationing will be communicated to all customers by telephone through use of reverse 911 (Code Red).

IV. Levels of Response

Five levels of water shortage response are outlined in the table below. The five levels of water shortage response are: voluntary reductions, mandatory reductions l and ll, emergency reductions and water

rationing. A detailed description of each response level and corresponding water reduction measures follow below.

1Voluntary ReductionsWater users are encouraged to reduce their water use and improve water use efficiency; however, no penalties apply for noncompliance. Water supply conditions indicate a potential for shortage.
2Mandatory Reductions IWater users must abide by required water use reduction and efficiency measures; penalties apply for noncompliance. Water supply conditions are significantly lower than the seasonal norm and water shortage conditions are expected to persist.
3Mandatory Reductions IISame as in Stage 2
4Emergency ReductionsWater supply conditions are substantially diminished and pose an imminent threat to human health or environmental integrity.
5Water RationingWater supply conditions are substantially diminished and remaining supplies must be allocated to preserve human health and environmental integrity.

In Stage 1, Voluntary Reductions, all water users will be asked to reduce their normal water use by five (5%). Customer education and outreach programs will encourage water conservation and efficiency measures including: irrigating landscapes a maximum of one inch per week; preventing water waste, runoff and watering impervious surfaces; watering plants deeply to encourage root growth; washing only full loads in clothes and dishwashers; using spring-loaded nozzles on garden hoses; and identifying and repairing all water leaks.

In Stage 2, Mandatory Reductions I, all customers are expected to reduce their water use by ten (10%) in comparison to their previous month’s water bill. In addition to continuing to encourage all voluntary reduction actions, the following restrictions apply: irrigation is limited to a half inch per week between 8PM and 8AM; outdoor use of drinking water for washing impervious surfaces is prohibited; and all testing and training purposes requiring drinking water (e.g. fire protection) will be limited.

In Stage 3, Mandatory Reductions II, customers must continue actions from all previous stages and further reduce water use by twenty (20%) compared to their previous month’s water bill. All non-essential uses of drinking water are banned and garden and landscape irrigation must be reduced to the minimum amount necessary for survival. Additionally, in Stage 3, a drought surcharge of one and one half (1.5) times the normal water rate applies.

In Stage 4, Emergency Reductions, customers must continue all actions from previous stages and further reduce their water use by twenty-five (25%) compared to their previous month’s water bill. A ban on all use of drinking water except to protect public health and safety is implemented and drought surcharges increase to two (2) times the normal water rate.

The goal of Stage 5, Water Rationing, is to provide drinking water to protect public health (e.g. residences, residential health care facilities and correctional facilities). In Stage 5, all customers are only permitted to use water at the minimum required for public health protection. Firefighting is the only allowable outdoor water use and pickup locations for distributing potable water will be announced according to Lenoir’s Emergency Response Plan. Drought surcharges increase to five (5) times the normal water rate.

V. Triggers

Lenoir’s source of water is Lake Rhodhiss. Lenoir will abide by the triggers identified by Duke Power in accordance with the drought stage triggers incorporated into the Low Inflow Protocol.

Return to Normal

When water shortage conditions have abated and the situation is returning to normal, water conservation measures employed during each phase should be decreased in reverse order of implementation. Permanent measures directed toward long-term monitoring and conservation should be implemented or continued so that the community will be in a better position to prevent shortages and respond to recurring water shortage conditions.

VI. Enforcement

The provisions of the water shortage response plan will be enforced by City of Lenoir utilities department and police personnel. Violators may be reported on the City’s phone line or the e-mail contact listed on the City’s website. Citations are assessed according to the following schedule depending on the number of prior violations and current level of water shortage.

Water Shortage LevelFirst ViolationSecond ViolationThird Violation
Voluntary ReductionsN/AN/AN/A
Mandatory Reductions (Stages 2 and 3)Warning$250Discontinuation of Service
Emergency Reductions$250Discontinuation of ServiceDiscontinuation of Service
Water Rationing$500Discontinuation of ServiceDiscontinuation of Service

Drought surcharge rates are effective in Stages 3, 4 and 5.

VII. Public Comment

Customers will have multiple opportunities to comment on the provisions of the water shortage response plan. First, a draft plan will be will be available at City Hall for customers to view. A notice will be included in customer water bill notifying them of such. A draft plan will be published on the City of Lenoir website. A public hearing will be scheduled with notice printed in all customer water bills to collect comments on the draft. All subsequent revisions to the draft plan will be published at least 30 days prior to an adoption vote by the Lenoir City Council.

VIII. Variance Protocols

Applications for water use variance requests are available from the City of Lenoir website and City Public Utilities Office. All applications must be submitted to the Public Utilities Office for review by the Public Utilities Operations Manager or his or her designee. A decision to approve or deny individual variance requests will be determined within two weeks of submittal after careful consideration of the following criteria: impact on water demand, expected duration, alternative source options, social and economic importance, purpose (i.e. necessary use of drinking water) and the prevention of structural damage.

IX. Effectiveness

The effectiveness of the Lenoir water shortage response plan will be determined by comparing the stated water conservation goals with observed water use reduction data. Other factors to be considered include frequency of plan activation, any problem periods without activation, total number of violation citations, desired reductions attained and evaluation of demand reductions compared to the previous year’s seasonal data.

X. Revision

The water shortage response plan will be reviewed and revised as needed to adapt to new circumstances affecting water supply and demand, following implementation of emergency restrictions, and at a minimum of every five years in conjunction with the updating of our Local Water Supply Plan. Further, a water shortage response planning work group will review procedures following each emergency or rationing stage to recommend any necessary improvements to the plan to the Lenoir City Council. The City of Lenoir Utilities Operations Manager is responsible for initiating all subsequent revisions.