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Sinking Kerr Lake Level Has Franklin Readying Restrictions

Officials are keeping a careful eye on the level of the Army Corps of Engineers reservoir and deciding what restrictions will be if they need to be implemented.

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HENDERSON, N.C. — The drought is taking its toll on the water levels of lakes all across the Triangle, including to the north, where Kerr Lake is 5 feet below where it normally would be this time of year.
That has the town of Henderson and Franklin County watching carefully, and Franklin is getting mandatory water restrictions ready in case they are needed.

As rain stays away, dry spots are popping up all over Kerr Lake, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoir on the North Carolina-Virginia border.

“Certainly we're concerned with the lake levels the way they are,” said Franklin Public Utilities Director Bryce Mendenhall.

The lake was at 293.9 feet Tuesday morning. That is an alarming number to the communities that get their water from the lake, like Henderson and Franklin County. Mandatory restrictions are in the works for both systems if lake levels don't rise.

“We want to look for water that's going to be used for life-sustaining purposes...firefighting, maintaining the quality of the water in the system. Those are the things that have got to take place,” Mendenhall said.

The Corps is keeping a very close eye on lake levels. It says Kerr Lake is the lowest it's been in five years, and Corps representatives meet weekly with cities that get their water from the lake.”

Local utilities directors use those meetings to gauge when mandatory restrictions might be necessary. In Franklin County, that could mean a halt to car-washing and lawn-watering, and that could mean trouble for homeowners who reseed in the fall.

Residents are “wanting to apply the water to go along with those practices, and we may interfere with those if the lake levels continue to drop and we don't get any help from Mother Nature,” Mendenhall said.

Mendenhall will present a list of mandatory restrictions to county commissioners next Monday. They are expected to vote on the list so restrictions are ready, but not to implement them until they are needed.


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