Durham, N.C. — Worsening drought conditions have municipalities across central North Carolina considering tightening restrictions on water use.
Drought conditions re-appeared in the state in July, and rainfall levels have dropped off precipitously since then. So far in September, only fourteen-hundredths of an inch of rain have fallen, and the state is 8.5 inches behind the normal rainfall total at this point in the year.
As of Thursday, a severe drought reigned in seven counties – Franklin, Granville, Halifax, Nash, Northampton, Vance and Warren. Moderate drought conditions covered 67 counties, including the Triangle and most of central and eastern North Carolina.
This week, Southern Pines ordered mandatory water restrictions after Downing Creek, the town's water source, registered low water flow for five consecutive days.
The restrictions affect how often residents can wash their cars and water their plants, let restaurants serve drinking water only upon request, and order all businesses to cut their water usage by 25 percent.
The restrictions will stay in place for at least 30 days until the water in Drowning Creek rises above low flow for five days.
Durham water officials said Friday that Durham could implement water restrictions within two weeks if the Triangle doesn't see significant rainfall before then.
State 1 water restrictions take effect in Durham when the combined water levels of Lake Michie and the Little River Reservoir, the city's two primary sources of drinking water, dips to 75 percent of capacity.
Both Raleigh and Cary issued notices Friday to remind water customers of the year-round restrictions in place and to encourage conservation during the deepening drought.
North Carolina suffered through a record drought in 2007-08, and low rainfall allowed drought conditions to return from July through December of 2009.