Local News

Water Demand Down as Drought Creeps East Again

Posted November 8, 2007 11:12 a.m. EST
Updated November 8, 2007 11:13 p.m. EST

— A week after heavy rains pushed the worst drought conditions back to western North Carolina, the drought is edging back east.

Meanwhile, Gov. Mike Easley said major water systems across the state reported a 28 percent drop in water consumption between August and the end of October.

Fifty-eight counties, including much of the Triangle, are experiencing extreme or exceptional drought conditions, up from 52 counties a week ago, according to a North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council report issued Thursday.

The number of counties experiencing moderate drought dropped from 18 to eight, with all but one of those in the eastern edges of the state, the report showed.

The forecast for the coming week shows little chance of rain in the Triangle. The region is almost 7 inches below normal for rainfall this year.

Two weeks ago, Easley called on state residents to reduce their water consumption by half to give officials a better idea of what steps could work in a crisis. While some water systems showed significant savings, others reported more modest results.

“My goal was lofty, but all citizens must cut water use as much as they can,” Easley said in a statement. “Given the situation nearly all of North Carolina faces, we cannot afford to do any less.”

Water systems representing 72 percent of the 6.8 million customers served by public water utilities now provide state officials with weekly data on water use. An analysis of the 25 largest systems show an average drop in daily water use of nearly 28 percent from August to the last week of October.

Raleigh's water use dropped by 33 percent, while Cary's fell by 36 percent, according to the data. Durham's water use was down by 28 percent and Fayetteville's by 30 percent, the data showed. Sanford showed the smallest drop among area water systems, at 21 percent.

"We now know we can conserve, but it must become habit since it is unlikely the drought will lift anytime soon,” Easley said.