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First time since 2019, N.C. reaches moderate drought conditions

Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 1:21 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Gasoline isn’t the only thing Southeastern North Carolina is running low on - rainfall has also been lacking. In fact, it’s the first time since late 2019 that the state has seen moderate drought or D1 conditions, according to North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council (DMAC) and the latest U.S. Drought Monitor.

But, there’s no need to panic, or stock up on bottled water, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority is not even issuing any sort of water restrictions as of right now, but it is something the water provider has been keeping an eye on.

“It’s definitely been a very dry spring, the last time I checked we’re more than four-and-a-half inches below normal from what we would have received from March 1 until now,” CFPUA Spokesman Vaughn Hagerty said.

So just how much off is that compared to normal? Hagerty said it’s about one-third less rainfall since March 1, going forward. But as far as the year goes, the region is only around an inch or less below average.

The problem with the rainfall that we have seen this year is the fact that most of it happened early on in the year - a time when most people are not worried about watering lawns or plants.

The lack of rain is showing up in the water usage for CFPUA, and for the most part, it is coming from irrigation of lawns, Hagerty said, and charts are similar to past experiences.

“Overall water usage is tracking very closely to what we saw in 2019 when there definitely was a drought, like what we are in now,” he said.

Although CFPUA is not even issuing voluntary conservation efforts right now, it’s always helpful not only for resources but also for your wallet, to conserve water when you can. There’s plenty of ways to conserve water that you can find online, but Hagerty said that many people are actually overwatering their lawns compared to what they actually need.

“There are ways that you can both save water, and keep your lawns healthy at the same time. In general, most established lawns only need one inch of water a week - that includes any water your receive from rain,” he said.

Other tips from CFPUA include:

  • Avoid watering when the sun is up; sunlight and heat increase evaporation
  • Turn your sprinklers off for a couple of days before and after rain
  • Regularly check your sprinkler system for leaks
  • Install smart sprinkler controllers, which can shut off sprinklers during rain or when a leak is detected
  • Get a rain barrel for outdoor irrigation
  • Let your lawn grow slightly longer to shield the soil and keep it moist
  • Check your lawn by stepping on it; if the grass springs back, it doesn’t need water

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