Most of NC remains in drought

June 19, 2008 5:13:10 PM PDT
Although Falls Lake is about 99 percent full, Wake County is already in a severe drought.

It's a level the county didn't hit until September of last yea, which is the worst drought on record.

"Because the drought was so severe in '07, we fell back into it quickly," Ed Buchan, water conservation specialist, said.

Groundwater tables, streams and creeks never fully recovered from last summer.

The U.S. Drought Monitor released a report this week that shows 97 percent of the state in some form of drought, up from 65 percent last week. Conditions are worse in the southwestern part of the state, where seven counties are under "exceptional" drought, the most severe category.

"It takes sometimes months, years, for groundwater to recover, it's just a very slow process," Buchan said. "It's kind of like percolating water down to the ground." And that's sending us into bad shape, fast.

In just the last two weeks, much of our area has gone from abnormally dry to a moderate drought last week and now into a severe drought.

The only three counties not suffering from drought are in the northeastern corner of the state.

Last week's report showed most of eastern North Carolina classified as abnormally dry. But rainfall totals are relatively low across interior North Carolina, which helped the drought conditions expand eastward.

"We can learn from last year, we have this exact same pattern taking place last year," Raleigh City Councilman Rodger Koopman said.

Koopman thinks it's already time to act. He says the two days a week allowed for watering is too much, and he wants people to prepare for major cutbacks and tougher rules he'd like to see in a matter of weeks.

"Why not now start message to our business community we're going to Stage 2, whatever, 6 weeks from now, 8 weeks from now, to actually give them time to prepare this time around to do all the things we should have done last year," Koopman said.

For now, Koopman doesn't have much support to toughen the rules.

So far, he's not getting much support for a quick change back to tougher rules. Koopman brought the idea up at a city council meeting Tuesday, and was rebuffed by Mayor Charles Meeker and City Manager Russell Allen.

No council members spoke up on behalf of Koopman.

Most say conservation is working -- water usage among Raleigh customers is down 19 percent from this time last year. They say if Falls Lake continues to dip, perhaps down to 75 percent or 80 percent full, changes might be made.


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