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Pender County issues warning about water use as area experiences moderate drought

Updated: May. 21, 2021 at 4:29 PM EDT
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BURGAW, N.C. (WECT) - Much of the Cape Fear region is in a moderate drought and it’s causing local utilities to ask customers to watch their water usage.

The region has gone without rain for quite some time, and with warm temperatures on the horizon, leaders are encouraging people to do their part now in reducing how much water they use.

Pender County put out a warning Thursday about the drought and the need to conserve water. There’s no formal restrictions or advisory active yet in Pender County, but officials say they’re keeping an eye on the issue.

CFPUA and Brunswick County officially announced voluntary water conservation alerts Friday morning, until further notice. Those alerts could be upgraded to mandatory conservation measures, too, depending on the conditions going forward.

The utilities director in Pender County reports they have seen a significant increase in usage this spring. According to Kenny Keel, In April, usage was up 27 percent over the year prior. The numbers in May aren’t as dramatic because of a few light showers, but experts say usage is still high.

Much of the increase is connected to the growth in areas like Hampstead and Scotts Hill, but experts also say the warm weather has also caused people to use more water than normal. To make matters worse, leaders know the upcoming Memorial weekend could also put added strain on water system.

Back in 2019, Pender County experienced a water shortage emergency in Hampstead around this time of year.

Leaders in Pender County, though say at the moment, they believe they have enough water for their needs, but they’re closely monitoring the situation.

“This time of year, especially as dry as it’s been, it’s getting concerning about the quantity used to make sure we have enough for everybody. Especially from our past experience in 2019 where we did run a little bit short in the Hampstead area, but we’ve taken measures over the last year to ensure we have sufficient water supply for the region and we’re comfortable we have sufficient water for the needs this holiday weekend and the summer” said Pender County Utilities Director Kenny Keel.

Since the emergency, they’ve completed construction on two more water supply wells that provide half a million gallons of water a day. Keel also added that they have made operational changes to their booster pump station, allowing them to push more water through the pipes and better serve the county’s needs along the highway 17 corridor.

The county is still working to add three more wells in the next two years, and install an elevated water tank in Scott’s Hill. Long term, plans are also underway for a reverse osmosis plant to be completed in the next five years.

While they aren’t under any formal restrictions, Keel is advising people in Pender County to do their part to minimize their usage, especially outdoors, because of the drought conditions.

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