Hurricanes

Weekend Rain Helped, But Much More Needed to Ease Drought

Posted June 3, 2007
Updated June 4, 2007

— The remnants of Tropical Depression Barry helped replenish a bit of North Carolina's water table and add some green to dry foliage over the weekend, but much more rain is needed to improve drought conditions across the state, according to weather officials.

"The drought took several months to set up so it's going to take more than one rain storm," said Brandon Locklear, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Raleigh. "Luckily, for the most part, this has been a steady rain so the ground has been able to absorb a lot of it without a lot of runoff."

Local government officials have taken water conservation measures to help offset drought conditions affecting more than three-fourths of the state.

In Cary and Morrisville, even-numbered addresses may use sprinkler systems Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Odd-numbered households can water Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. No one may water on Mondays.

In Johnston County, customers with odd-numbered addresses can water on odd-numbered dates Tuesday through Sunday and vice-versa for even-numbered addresses.

Durham residents are asked to voluntarily conserve water. Starting July 1, Raleigh residents will see mandatory, year-round conditions.

The worst drought conditions are in the mountains, which is experiencing an extreme drought while other parts of the state are in a milder severe drought, Locklear said.

The mountains received the smallest benefit from the weekend storm, with barely any rainfall recorded in Asheville.

The Charlotte area is nearly 4 inches below normal this year, and the third of an inch of rain that fell on the area from Saturday to Sunday will have little effect on lake and river levels, said Neil Dixon, a weather service meteorologist based in Greer, South Carolina

"It's just not enough," he said.

Wilmington is about 45 percent behind normal rainfall for its second-driest period on record, according to the weather service. While the area got nearly 2 inches of rain as of Sunday morning, several weeks of good rainfall are needed there to help parched lawns and half-full ponds, officials said.

The Raleigh area recorded about three-fourths of an inch of rain.

Showers are forecast for Monday and Tuesday around the state, followed by temperatures in the 90s later in the week.

35 Comments

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  • 68_polara Jun 5, 2007

    Man, I'm glad I don't live in a neighborhood where people report on each other for washing cars.

  • revdeb53 Jun 5, 2007

    If mandatory water restrictions, as may be needed, are emplaced I certainly hope the city will enforce them.

    In 2005 there were three employees to issue citations. I know this because our neighborhood had cause to call on a repeat violator who not only continued to wash his three vehicles, but allowed a mobile auto detailer to fill his water tank from the garden hose. The one time the 'enforcement' officer actually got to this residence to witness the violation (they must see it to issue a fine) the resident became so enraged that the officer did nothing. The violator actually crowed and laughed loudly in his front yard after the city personel left saying he would "do want I want and nobody can do nothing about it."

    Water is essential to life of all kinds. Conservation is essential and critical. If the city won't take it seriously how can it expect others to do so? 2005 was a perfect example of selective enforcement.

  • Steve Crisp Jun 5, 2007

    There is a limit to conservation efforts that the Raleigh City Council seems to ignore: there are always legitimate exceptions to conservation policy.

    For instance...

    In 2004, we could not wash cars or hose down impervious surfaces. But if a flock of geese decide to use my car as target practice, I'm hosing it off. If a cat hurls a hairball on my driveway, the hose is coming out. And when the back deck gets so pollen encrusted that it is affecting my health, I'm gonna throw a lot of water at it.

    Yet in each of those cases in 2004, I could have been fined had I gotten caught. And yes, all of those things happened and I did not hesitate for one second before I pulled out the hose.

    I'm using common sense, a quality that our political leaders seem not to have acquired.

  • party pooper Jun 5, 2007

    I don't water my lawn at all. I'm not paying for that and I have a boat I want to use at our local lakes. So, I conserve.

  • tarheel1980 Jun 4, 2007

    Your theory seems to be based on the belief that we have the capability to store water once Falls Lake is full. That is not the case. There is no big tank. Once the lake is at 251.5 feet above sea level, any excess goes downstream. That is my point. There is no benefit to conservation if Falls Lake is full and as much water is being released downstream as is flowing into the lake.

    As far as your statement that if we conserve, low water levels will never be a problem, that's ridiculous. If it doesn't rain for long enough, like it did in 2004, low water levels will again be a problem, no matter whether we water our lawns right now or not.

    Again, the key to getting the public behind you conservation is honest, not fear.

  • aquamama Jun 4, 2007

    Conservation of water is always needed. It's a good habit to encourage, especially when growth does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon. And yes, Falls Lake levels ARE affected by our water usage. If we take out more than goes in, the level drops. We also have to maintain a certain flow further down the Neuse. If we conserve all the time, then low water levels will never be a problem. We will never (or rarely) have to plan for emergency water in severe drought conditions. And no, I don't think people will come through if it's really needed. I think they will say, "Why didn't the city do something about this sooner?" and continue to water their lawns in the middle of the night. I'm glad Raleigh is finally implementing a year-round conservation policy, and I hope they have a great public education campaign in the works.

  • tarheel1980 Jun 4, 2007

    It's really had to get the community behind conservation when it is done just for the sake of doing it. The Neuse is in no danger of drying up anytime soon, and our water usage while the lake is full has nothing to do with it.

    Thanks for the information about Falls Lake. I was aware that it is man made and did reference the spillway in my previous post.

    Conservation works when people believe that it is needed. That's impossible to justify when the lake is full ahd the outflow to the Neuse is rough what the inflow is (according the the Corps of Engineers daily reporting). Full time conservation may make us feel good, but does not accomplish much.

    The best way to educate the public and get everyone's support is to be honest. If people think they are conserving because it is really needed, they will come through.

  • aquamama Jun 4, 2007

    Hmmm...yeah, I know what I'm talking about. Since my idiot neighbor waters his lawn twice a day, he has no problem with dry soil, especially after 3 inches of rain in 24 hours is more than enough to saturate it. So sheeting definitely occurs. It's pretty obvious when you're actually watching it with your own 2 eyes. Also, enough MOVING water in needed in the Neuse to prevent stagnancy, which encourages algal growth and then decreases dissolved oxygen (this is bad, btw). And hey, did you know that the reason we have Falls Lake as a water supply is because we created it artificially by impounding the Neuse River? Oh, and one more thing: conservation only works when it occurs ALL THE TIME. But by no means, I'm not trying to control you.

  • tarheel1980 Jun 4, 2007

    Mama; Instead of criticizing me, maybe you should think through your arguement a little. With the current state of Falls Lake, any water that is not used is dumped over the spillway and down the Neuse River. There is no danger of the Neuse drying up with the lake at the level that it is now, so your "living creatures" should be fine.

    Based on your argument, the water from the lawn ends up in the Neuse River, just like the used water from Falls Lake. So instead of trying to put "some people" down, maybe you should spend some time learning about our water system.

    If you think that as dry as it has been, all the water "sheets off" into the river, you haven't been paying attention. Soil moisure is very low. I'm sure his water usage wasn't wasted for the area.

    We need be more pratical in our approach to water management and not attempt to control others just for the sake of control. When it makes sense to conserve, let's all pitch in. When we don't, give it a rest.

  • aquamama Jun 4, 2007

    Thor will smite you all for this talk of no gods.

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