County Moves Into Drought; City Issues Advisory

City officials recommend watering plants and lawns early in the day, or using drip systems whenever possible. (file photo)

Updated June 28 3:45 p.m.

Every county except for one in North Carolina is now in either a drought or abnormally dry, the state Drought Monitor reported today (June 27).

Columbus County is listed as having moderate drought conditions. Whiteville city officials activated its water shortage response plan around noon.

“We’re asking people to voluntarily conserve water where they can,” said Hal Lowder Jr., the city’s Emergency Services Director.

Lowder said city water customers can help reduce some of the strain on the system with just a few changes in routine.

“A lot of this is common sense that we should do anyway,” Lowder said, “but in times of drought, even a moderate drought, it’s more important.”

Doing full loads of laundry instead of partial loads can save hundreds of gallons of water, the city’s conservation plan said. Watering plants and gardens early in the day helps plants make the best use of water, as does using drip irrigation.

Leaky faucets and fixtures can quickly run up water bills in normal circumstances. The city said a single leaking faucet can waste 3,000 gallons a year, and a toilet can lose 73,000 gallons.

Changing fixtures for more efficient plumbing can also lead to significant savings.

Officials are monitoring the continuing drought conditions, Lowder said.

“If drought conditions continue to worsen,” he said, “mandatory restrictions may come into play.”

Area farmers have been feeling the pinch for weeks. On Cathy Barnes’ family farm in Sidney, measured rainfall for the month of June was one-half-inch.
“It is awful,” she said. “We need rain. We are having to move some of our cows around to other farms due to not having enough grass for them to graze. It’s crazy.

“We planted a few acres of soybeans early in the week, after we got that half-inch, so we need the rain.”

Moderate drought conditions are defined by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture as causing increased stress on trees, crops and other plant life, with short term damage to agriculture, pasturage and landscaping.

Statewide, Lumberton and New Bern are expected to have the least rainfall one record. Several counties, including Johnston, have requested voluntary water conservation measures be taken by residents.
The USDA reports 55 percent of the corn crop is in poor condition, as the dry conditions worsened while the corn was tasseling. Losses are forecast to be likely at this point. Some livestock farmers are already reporting “browning’ of some pasturage as well as a reduction in hay production.

Long range forecasts from the National Weather Service call for increased rain chances next week, with slightly lower temperatures.

Graphic courtesy N.C. Drought Monitor.
About Jefferson Weaver 2149 Articles
Jefferson Weaver is the Managing Editor of Columbus County News and he can be reached at (910) 914-6056, (910) 632-4965, or by email at [email protected].