Raleigh, N.C. — As cities and towns across North Carolina begin to loosen restrictions on water use, Gov. Mike Easley on Wednesday asked them to rethink the move.
Easley sent a letter to mayors and county managers, thanking them for conservation efforts in recent months to combat the ongoing statewide drought. He also urged them to continue conservation programs because a hot, dry summer could once again drain reservoirs.
"Even though reservoir levels have risen, our groundwater resources, which help keep our streams flowing, are still extremely low. This makes North Carolina very vulnerable as summer approaches," Easley wrote in the letter. "There is the potential for exceptional and extreme drought conditions to return this summer and fall."
All 100 North Carolina counties continue experiencing drought conditions, including 81 in severe or extreme drought, he said. Long-range forecasts also call for drier-than-normal conditions through at least the end of May, he said.
“The drought of 2007-08 has taught all of us that we need to do a better job of managing our water resources year round," Easley wrote in the letter. "But we also have to change our attitude about using water and make water conservation a way of life in North Carolina."
Raleigh lifted Stage 2 restrictions for municipal water customers Monday, allowing them once again to use drinking water to irrigate their lawns and wash their cars. Cary, Durham, Fayetteville and other area cities also have relaxed rules in recent weeks after spring rains replenished their reservoirs.
Water consumption on Raleigh's system was 38.8 million gallons, the same as Monday's usage, according to Public Utilities Department Director Dale Crisp.