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Water Concerns Differ For Rocky Mount, Wilson

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ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. — The drought is leaving its mark on eastern North Carolina cities, but a few places are handling it better than others.

In Rocky Mount, mandatory restrictions are in place. In Wilson, there currently are no water restrictions. The towns are just a few miles apart, but their water situations are quite different.

It is so dry at Mike Vick's house in Sharpsburg, that pine needles are the only things falling from the sky. His water comes from Rocky Mount's reservoir.

"This drought here, with all the flowers and plants that we put money and time into planting, it's going to cost us an arm and a leg to replace them and we're going to lose them all if it doesn't hurry up and rain," Vick said.

Ten miles south, Elmer Cummings gets his water from the city of Wilson.

"It's important to know that the water is there and the water is safe and that we have plenty of water," he said.

Wilson does not want customers to overdo it, but there is plenty of water because of Buckhorn Lake. Three years ago, the city expanded its reservoir to 10 times its previous size. The reservoir now holds about 7 billion gallons.

Wilson's water level has dropped about 18 inches, but because there is so much more water available, the city said it is not a big problem right now.

"That is because of the Buckhorn Reservoir project, the expanded project, that the city of Wilson can continue to meet the needs of its residential customers as well as its industrial and commercial customers," said Charles Pittman, Wilson's deputy city manager.

With its reservoir below the halfway mark, Rocky Mount is under mandatory restrictions.

"We've seen the reservoir this low before. It's gotten down to almost 10 feet below what we call full, but never this early in the year," said Paul Blount, Rocky Mount water director.

With no plans for expanding the Nash County reservoir, rain is what Rocky Mount needs now. Wilson needs it too, it just is not critical yet.

Rocky Mount supplies water to Nash and Edgecombe counties as well as the towns of Nashville and Sharpsburg.

Blount said Friday's rain did not have an effect on Rocky Mount's restrictions.