Local News

More Than 15 Inches of Rain Needed to Ease State's Drought

Posted August 21, 2007 5:40 a.m. EDT
Updated August 21, 2007 1:40 p.m. EDT

— Officials at a Drought Management Council meeting said Tuesday the state needs at least 15 inches of rain in the next few months to ease drought conditions.

However, the likelihood of that happening was only about 30 percent, said Jeff Orrock, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Nearly 75 percent of the state is under a severe or extreme drought, and weather officials said there is no sign of significant rainfall in sight. Officials said at the meeting that the state's drought conditions may last until next summer. They also said some hard decisions may have to be made, such as enacting stricter water restrictions.

The news comes as the state Division of Forest Resources initiated a statewide ban Tuesday on all open burning and canceled all burning permits.

The heat continues to take its toll on the yards of some homeowners, who are struggling to keep their landscaping alive.

"There's a part of me that says I have to water my yard, but there's a part of me that says I also need water to take a shower and cook with too," said resident Ken Edwards.

One private utility company though is taking matters into its own hands. With the state's permission, Aqua North Carolina put restrictions in place. Customers can only water twice a week at night, three hours at a time.

"The customers hold their destiny in their hands. If they are wise with irrigation practices, there will be plenty of water for domestic use," said Thomas Roberts, president of Aqua North Carolina.

Many people using a well system are having to go deeper to tap into water. State officials said wells in the Triangle show levels almost as low as they were in the drought of 2002.

"We are in a distressing situation, so if it continues, we'll continue to see a number of wells go dry," said Greg Bright of the Wake County Division of Water Quality.

Since July 1, Raleigh has issued 444 warnings to people for not following water restrictions. The city could go to tougher restrictions if the drought continues.