Local News

Water Demand Down as Drought Creeps East Again

Posted November 8, 2007

— A week after heavy rains pushed the worst drought conditions back to western North Carolina, the drought is edging back east.

Meanwhile, Gov. Mike Easley said major water systems across the state reported a 28 percent drop in water consumption between August and the end of October.

Fifty-eight counties, including much of the Triangle, are experiencing extreme or exceptional drought conditions, up from 52 counties a week ago, according to a North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council report issued Thursday.

The number of counties experiencing moderate drought dropped from 18 to eight, with all but one of those in the eastern edges of the state, the report showed.

The forecast for the coming week shows little chance of rain in the Triangle. The region is almost 7 inches below normal for rainfall this year.

Two weeks ago, Easley called on state residents to reduce their water consumption by half to give officials a better idea of what steps could work in a crisis. While some water systems showed significant savings, others reported more modest results.

“My goal was lofty, but all citizens must cut water use as much as they can,” Easley said in a statement. “Given the situation nearly all of North Carolina faces, we cannot afford to do any less.”

Water systems representing 72 percent of the 6.8 million customers served by public water utilities now provide state officials with weekly data on water use. An analysis of the 25 largest systems show an average drop in daily water use of nearly 28 percent from August to the last week of October.

Raleigh's water use dropped by 33 percent, while Cary's fell by 36 percent, according to the data. Durham's water use was down by 28 percent and Fayetteville's by 30 percent, the data showed. Sanford showed the smallest drop among area water systems, at 21 percent.

"We now know we can conserve, but it must become habit since it is unlikely the drought will lift anytime soon,” Easley said.


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  • SteamTrain Nov 9, 2007

    Anyone know how much water Raliegh is using per day just for infrastructure leakages? AN earlier article said the rule of thumb was ~25%, but Raleigh could be way over. So perhaps 90% of how much flow is measured from 3-4AM. I'd like to see that number.

  • Nobody but Carolina Nov 9, 2007

    Well, the car washes like Auto Bell are required by State Law to recycle water, so you can't say that those car washes do not recycle. I believe it's required to be at least 80% recycled water. Auto Bell's recycling runs closer to 90%. The ones I wonder about are the self serve and automated ones at gas stations. I would assume they would be held to the same guidelines.

  • seeingthru Nov 8, 2007

    hey choirgirl it doesn't matter how much the demand picks up for a discontinued product get your head outta the sand

  • selmacac Nov 8, 2007

    WFrules: The reason is that the car wash is a business and shutting them down would be stopping commerce. I don't have a link but there is something about not being able to just shut down a business when they haven't broken any laws. They have a right to stay in business. They should recycle the water as a way to help with the drought, but its up to them, and if they did they might even get more business for it.

  • seeingthru Nov 8, 2007

    heads up well owners, the piedmont aquifer which supplies well water is on it's bottom half, will run out in January per Aqua NC yes that's y'all in Knightdale, Wendell Zebulon etc we are in equally bad shape as Raleigh etc. no escape ...conserve....and who says you need to shower daily?

  • choirgirl Nov 8, 2007

    The only reason the demand dropped is because no one is watering their lawns anymore - it's dormant season. See if the demand doesn't pick right back up again in June if we don't get enough rain to keep the grass green.

  • wildervb Nov 8, 2007

    I find it amazing that this state cannot supply it's citizens with water even when we get 82% of our normal annual rainfall.

    That's right, normally we should have gotten 37.73 inches of rain, but this year we've only gotten 30.88 inches. Do the division it comes out to 82%. Not realy that big of a shortfall. Obviously this state(and counties) need to invest in it's water infrastructure, but that might mean raising taxes for someone.

  • WFrules Nov 8, 2007

    Why are car washes still allowed to operate when they don’t recycle water and we can’t wash our own cars at home? We can even power wash our homes on the weekend, but can’t wash our cars? What uses more water?

    Fix the rules, build more reservoirs, slow the building down and hire some people who know how to implement the rules. Our area has out grown Falls Lake and everything they plan to do in the short term is a temp fix. Get it right.