Durham's water supply level questioned

January 25, 2008 1:20:40 PM PST
Last weekend's snow and ice did little to bring Durham out of its drought. Now there's concern the water situation may be worse than city officials are letting on.

It's all about the math and how millions of gallons are counted.

Sherry and Todd Edge, who live in Person County, were shocked to see what the drought has done to Lake Michie.

"To imagine you used to stand out there and it would be over your head, and now it's like a little creek running through there," Sherry said.

And even though it looks like a creek in places. It's one of Durham's main sources of drinking water. Little River Reservoir doesn't look much better. But despite its looks, Durham officials insisted Monday there was 125 days of high quality drinking water left.

But is there?

That figure is based on a monthly average which totals just over 17 million gallons a day. The trouble with that is Durham is using nearly 21 million gallons a day this month.

"Using a 30-day running average is a number that's agreed upon by area municipalities," Vicki Westbrook, Durham Water Management, said. "Everyone is using that same sort of 30-day amount of supply running day average."

Since the city isn't factoring in about four million gallons a day, the 125 day total doesn't hold water for some.

If you do the math, it actually brings the number down to about 106 days, and that's no surprise to anyone taking a look at Lake Michie these days.

"When is it gonna end," asked Sherry. "When are we gonna get enough rain? Because they said it could take years to get us back to where we should be and I can see that. I can understand why it would take that long."

Mandatory water restrictions remain in place in Durham and will likely stay in place for quite some time.


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