Local News

Farmers Find 'Ingenious' Ways to Get Water

Posted October 12, 2007

— People in Warren County are only under voluntary conservation measures, but the water shortage is having a harsh trickle-down effect on local farmers.

Many are finding creative ways to get their water, including legally tapping into a fire hydrant.

It's that time of year when Paul Harris and his crew plant their strawberry crops. The strawberries require a good bit of watering. Lately, that's been easier said than done.

“I’m just trying to do what I got to do to make it through this situation,” Harris said.

Harris normally pumps water from a pond on his property, but it has been bone dry. So he looked across the street from his farm for a radical solution.

“I had to take an alternative and buy water from the county, all they’d let me buy,” he said.

Harris tapped into the fire hydrant to water his crops, and the county was fine with it.

“If they’re in need, they’re in need, and we want to try to help the citizens of the county in any way we can,” said Macon Robertson, with Warren County Public Utilities.

The county and Harris have an agreement where they will monitor his daily water use and Harris pays the county for the water. This is just one of several ways Warren County farmers are creating new water sources.

“We have on record and on file anyone that is authorized to use the fire hydrant or to use any part of the water system or the water source itself,” Robertson said.

Other farmers have rigged different ways to tap into the county's water system. John Skinner trucks water to his livestock in thousand-gallon tanks.

“Farmers are probably the most ingenious as far as coming up with inventions,” Skinner said.

Despite their creativity, the drought is leaving its mark on farmers with many still unable to plant crops they normally would have in the ground already.

Harris said he was unable to plant next year's wheat harvest because the ground was too dry.

17 Comments

Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • donndeboer Oct 13, 2007

    At this point water conservation should be a priority for all. If this drought doesn't end soon we need to look for actual ingenious methods of getting water like desalinization. If we wait till ALL the waters gone before we look into such things it will be too late.

  • fl2nc2ca2md2nc Oct 13, 2007

    Waterrox, you stole my thunder, I was about to ask the same question.

    Looking across the road and seeing a fire hydrant and then getting water from it sounds far from ingenious.

    But I am glad that they are getting the water they need. Agriculture is a valid reason for watering, having a fescue lawn that needs constant watering instead of a centepede lawn that doesn't is not... They should ban all outdoor lawn watering, residential and commercial...

  • Waterrox Oct 13, 2007

    How does getting your water from a fire hydrant classify it as an "ingenious" method of water conservation? Warren County most likely gets their water from some surface water supply (Kerr Lake?), so how is that conserving water?

    Paying for a service is not conservation.

  • coolwill Oct 13, 2007

    Have you not heard that the government has already taken care of your farm needs; most of your food, clothing, medicines, children toys, lip stick, etc, all come from Mexico and commonest China. So there for we don’t need farms heck we should just sit on our lazy behinds and become fat on bad imports and have our house and lawn taken care of by border jumpers. By the way the farmers here in the US are wasting water that should be used for grass, drinking, car washing and fun. NAFTA is great!

  • richard2 Oct 13, 2007

    Where is Warren county getting their water?

  • cj Oct 13, 2007

    Congrats to Warren county for helping out a farmer that his crops will feed people. To those who think they should be watering their lawn - shame on them. When the water is gone no amount of money will buy water!!

  • Yelena Oct 13, 2007

    I dont think the water restrictions around here are enough. In my former community, just south of Boston, we had a year round, permenant water ban. No watering your lawn, EVER, and no washing your car, EVER.

    Hike the water and sewer rates and see what happens.

  • ghimmy47 Oct 13, 2007

    It's the stupidest thing I ever heard of to water, fertilize and coddle grass so you can go out and burn fossil fuel pushing a noisy, smoky machine around the yard.

  • Steve Crisp Oct 13, 2007

    Cool. I don't know why I had the impression that they planted in the spring and the things sprouted in perhaps five or six weeks. Now that I know that, I'll make sure not to go anywhere near a strawberry field in the fall or winter because my mere presence would probably kill the entire crop.

  • mluddysr Oct 13, 2007

    Beef prices are going to be sky high next year, since everyone is selling their cows now, based on the lack of hay for the winter.

More...