It’s time to curb our water usage

Published 5:25 am Tuesday, October 9, 2007

By Staff
Washington residents have been all but immune to the drought that has troubled the rest of the state. But that’s no reason to be complacent.
Statewide, North Carolina officials are saying the drought is the worst on record, even worse than the one in 2002. Washington officials are sending out the call that residents should voluntarily conserve water by using as little of it as possible.
That makes sense. It makes financial sense because the less water you use, the less you pay when the utility bill comes. It makes environmental sense because we shouldn’t treat water as something that will always be easily available.
Stream levels are down statewide, matching those from 2001, and a few sites in eastern North Carolina have seen levels lower than in 2002, said Curtis Weaver of the U.S. Geological Survey in a story published in the Charlotte Observer.
Lake levels are also far below normal; the Catawba-Wateree river basin in the Charlotte region reached a historic low last week, with usable water in the basin at 42 percent, compared with the normal 70 percent for this time of year, the Charlotte Observer reported.
It’s hard to look out onto the broad Pamlico River and even think there is a problem. It’s so large and shows no sign of receding, and it probably won’t. If the amount of water flowing downstream did decrease, it would likely be replaced with water flowing back from the Pamlico Sound. That water would tend to be more salty, and that would have an impact on fish and other wildlife; and there wouldn’t be anything we could do to stop it.
The City of Washington doesn’t get its water from the river. Washington draws its water from the Castle Hayne aquifer, an underground geological formation. Unlike some of the region’s smaller aquifers, it is more drought resistant, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be tapped out. Water levels in the Castle Hayne aquifer are lower than normal for this time of year, say Washington officials.
In Raleigh and elsewhere, residents have been told they can’t wash their cars or water their lawns. That hasn’t happened here, and hopefully it won’t, but there are other things you can and should do to curb water usage.
The city recommends the following water-saving tips:
Each of these tips may save you a little money, but they will save the community hundreds or thousands of gallons of water every day. And that may be water we truly need one day.