As Durham embarks on mandatory water restrictions beginning Friday, it is supremely ironic that it is the Water Management Department itself and our city fathers who have urged us to waste millions of gallons of drinking water:

Durham residents living in houses or apartments built before 1986, when a federal ban was instituted on the use of lead in the solder used to join copper pipes, are urged to run the tap five minutes before drinking to flush out water lines.

This was required because the water folks used some new chemical that ate away the covering that usually forms on lead solder:

Suspicion has fallen on a process Durham has used since 2002 to disinfect its drinking water called “chloramination” for the combined use of ammonia and chlorine. If the levels of chemicals in the water become too corrosive, a protective film encapsulating the lead solder in older homes can be scoured away, allowing the toxic metal to leach into the water.

I live in a house built in 1940, so I run my water for several minutes every morning — as instructed! — before I fill the coffee maker. I do the same when I make soup or gravy. I don’t see the need for it when I boil an egg, however, so I’m doing my part to save high-quality H20.

Now we find out that, even with the directive to waste lots of water, thus adding to our already outrageous water-sewer bills, the Water Management Department couldn’t even make ends meet. That’s why, says one councilman, they waited so long to announce water restrictions.

Administrators held off as long as they did in announcing mandatory water-use restrictions because they were more worried about the Water Management Department’s finances than they were about the deepening drought, a city councilman believes.

Why are the things other communities seem to do with ease so darn hard in Durham?

UPDATE: In Utah you can get arrested for not watering your lawn.