Rains Dampen Drought, Not Calls to Conserve Water

Posted November 1, 2007
Updated November 11, 2007

— Steady rains last week helped ease the severity of the drought across much of North Carolina, according to a new state report.

The number of counties experiencing exceptional drought conditions – the worst of five categories monitored by the state – dropped from 72 a week ago to 22 this week, the North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council said in its weekly report Thursday morning.

Exceptional drought conditions are now limited to the western North Carolina mountains, while a swath of the Piedmont region, including most of the Triangle, has improved to the level that officials call extreme drought conditions. Thirty counties, including several along the Virginia border and those immediately east of the Triangle, have been upgraded to the even less drastic condition called severe drought.

Eighteen counties along the Virginia border and in the eastern part of the state are now experiencing moderate drought, according to the report. A week ago, no counties had enough water to be in the moderate category.

Up to 6 inches of rain drenched much of central and eastern North Carolina late last week, the first significant rain the area had seen since mid-September.

But WRAL Meteorologist Mike Maze said no rain is in the forecast for the next week, meaning conditions could begin getting worse again soon.

"We have seen an improvement, but you have to remember that the forecast calls for drier-than-normal conditions through the fall and winter," Maze said. "We could easily slip back into exceptional drought in the coming weeks if we don't see any appreciable rain.

Gov. Mike Easley also noted the long-range forecasts in renewing his call for continued water conservation.

“Even though we are seeing some improvement in the drought map since last week’s rain, every county is still in some form of drought,” Easley said in a statement. “The effect of that rainfall could likely be short-lived, as climatologists are predicting a drier-than-average winter, so we all need to continue to conserve.”

A week ago, the governor called on residents statewide to cut their water consumption in half through Halloween to give people an idea of what sacrifices might be necessary in a water crisis and give officials a handle on what steps work in certain communities.

Most area cities fell far short of that goal, according to a review of data.

Raleigh water customers used an average of 48.4 million gallons a day in October, with large totals early in the month before outdoor sprinkling was outlawed. Since Easley's Oct. 22 request to cut back, average daily demand ranged between 39.1 million gallons and 44.1 million gallons.

In Durham, water usage dropped from 35.6 million gallons to 26.5 million gallons on an average day since

Cary water users have consistently used less than 20 million gallons a day since Easley's request, down from a monthly average of 32 million gallons a day.

"It's really an indication of our citizens," said Mike Bajorek, Cary's interim director of public utilities. "They understand that these are natural resources – there's a finite amount. When the governor started talking, they took heed, and you could tell the drop was substantial."

Cary residents have been under year-round water restrictions since 1996, using alternate-day watering, rain sensors and drought-tolerant plants to cut usage. The town and Holly Springs on Thursday banned all sprinklers for outdoor watering, although they both continue to allow watering plants by hand.

"I think people have gotten the message that water is precious. If we want to continue to have this, we need to use it wisely," Bajorek said.


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  • Made In USA Nov 2, 2007

    I think a good business to start up and get rich off of would be to sell mini water towers like you see around towns. Of coarse, not that big, but something that would collect rainwater off your roofs and driveways. Maybe hold two to three hundred gallons and have a hose connection. Hmmmm. I've always wanted a lot of money in the bank!

  • TLC2 Nov 2, 2007

    my_perogative & fury54: guess both of you are correct, but all the whiners and complainer should go live a couple of days in Tenn. town with no water. Then maybe they would appreciate what they have here.

  • fury54 Nov 2, 2007

    I mentioned De-saliniazation plants several weeks ago and I still firmly believe that where ever they (the government) decided to build one, the overwhelming opinion would be "NOT IN MY BACKYARD!!!!!"...

  • Run_Forrest_Run Nov 2, 2007

    bluegrasswife2 - but their lawns are turning brown (wah wah wah - crying and stomping foot). Grass must be green and cars washed....and everything is a conspiracy. (HEAVY with sarcasm)

    If things get more dire; those who have HAD infinite resources all their lives might be humbled a bit. My resources ($$) have always been finite. Conserving is just another day.......

    Water is a resource and not promised to you. You can't lobby Washington for it. You can't bribe or bully nature into creating it. When its gone, its gone. People need to stop being so egotisical and full of themselves - and realize this is something you can't control and work to the greater good in saving our precious resouce(s).

    OK, I'm getting off my soapbox. I'm tired.

  • TLC2 Nov 2, 2007

    Be thankful people we have water.. Town in Tennesse they don't any.. Having to truck it in and then only for 3 hours a day they get to use water - you don't hear them complaing... Can't we conserve without fussing and complaining? Is that so much to do?

  • not pc Nov 1, 2007

    people when your lakes are 5 to 8 feet down 6" of rain dont help get used to conserving. It's a good thing.not to mention that we are not showing any real chance of even thur jan.

  • opusvax Nov 1, 2007

    If the U.S. would invest in DE-SALINATION PLANTS; Then, droughts would no longer be a problem!!

    Call your SENATOR, TODAY!!

  • LYNYRD1 Nov 1, 2007

    The AM meteorologist on WRAL-TV insisted that last weeks rain would not effect the "drought" status. Now that 50+ counties in NC are officially in better condition as to water supply, all I hear is woe is me, long range forecasts are predicting a drier than "normal" winter. Guess we'll cross that bridge when we get to it (if it isn't flooded under ).

  • T-Man Nov 1, 2007

    Want to see what happens when the water runs out see this...

  • patrickandaiden Nov 1, 2007

    Stop complaining about growth. I was born and raised in NC and until you people moved from up North there was never a "water crisis" or "drought problem." Take your tails back up North where you belong and stop drinking my water.