Tryon water plant supt. discusses drought status

Published 4:02 pm Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Editor&squo;s note: Betty Jones, the water plant superintendent for the Town of Tryon, provides the following update on the drought

by Betty Jones

Are we still under water restrictions? This is a question I&squo;ve been asked quite frequently in the last few weeks. The answer is a resounding yes.

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I have also been asked, &dquo;Do we have a drought again this year?&dquo; Actually, we are not experiencing a new drought. We are dealing with a continuing drought that began in the spring of 2007 and is the worst drought in recorded history in North Carolina.

Droughts have classifications of D1 through D4, with D4 being the worst. The summer of 2007 saw a classification of D4. As fall came we received a bit more rainfall, and the classification dropped to D3 in September. In October the classification varied from D4 to D3 with the month ending at D4. We remained at D4 until the last week of February 2008, when we finally dropped back to D3.

By the second week of April 2008 the classification dropped to a D2. You might think it is wonderful to finally see this lower rating. But when you look at all the classifications, and what each one means, you&squo;ll see that a classification of D2 is considered to be a severe drought. Listed below are all the classifications and what each means:

D0 ‐ Abnormally Dry

D1 ‐ Moderate Drought

D2 ‐ Severe Drought

D3 ‐ Extreme Drought

D4 ‐ Exceptional Drought

Let&squo;s get back to our drought now. The last week of April 2008 saw the classification move back up to D3 or Extreme Drought, which is where we currently are.

We ended 2007 with a precipitation deficit of 23.55 inches (based on a 5-year average) for the year. Precipitation for our area is below average through May 2008. The six-year monthly average from 2002 through 2007 is 5.18 inches. So far in 2008 our monthly average is 3.84 inches which calculates to 1.34 inches below the six year monthly average.

What does all this data mean? It means that we still need to be responsible when using the water we have. The days of using treated water for anything and everything are gone. On June 11 there was hardly any overflow at the Lake Lanier Dam. We received 0.60 inches of rain overnight on the 11th and by early morning on the 12th we had a small amount of overflow. We all should be finding ways to conserve our treated water so that we have enough to go around. Last but not least, it means we are still under Stage II Mandatory water restrictions here in Tryon, NC.

During this Stage II (Mandatory) condition, it shall be unlawful for those served by the Town of Tryon&squo;s water system:

(1) To water lawns, grass, shrubbery, trees, flowers and vegetable gardens except by hand held hose or container or drip irrigation system.

(2) To fill newly constructed swimming and/or wading pools or refill swimming and/or wading pools which have been drained.

(3) to wash automobiles, trucks, trailers, boats, airplanes, or any other type of mobile equipment, including commercial washing.

(4) To wash outside areas such as streets, driveways, service station aprons, parking lots, office buildings, exteriors of existing or newly constructed homes or apartments, sidewalks or patios, or to use water for similar purposes.

(5) To use water from public or private fire hydrants for any purpose other than fire suppression or other public emergency.

(6) To operate or introduce water into any ornamental fountain, pool, or pond or other structure making similar use of water.

(7) To serve drinking water in restaurants, cafeterias or other food establishments, except upon request.

(8) To operate water-cooled air conditioners or other equipment that does not recycle cooling water, except when health and safety are adversely affected.

(9) Use water for unnecessary purpose or intentionally waste water.

(10) To use water for industrial purposes in an amount in excess of that amount set by the town manager.

Any violation of the Stage II guidelines shall constitute a misdemeanor, punishable upon conviction by a fine or imprisonment. Willful disregard of Stage I and/or Stage II guidelines will also result in water service being temporarily disconnected. A reconnect fee will be imposed before restoration of service. While under Stage II restrictions, Stage I restrictions remain in place.

The Town of Tryon water system customers have rallied to the call to conserve and it does not go unnoticed. Every gallon saved is appreciated and we ask that each person continue their conservation efforts.

For weekly updates on the drought situation and water saving tips please visit Governor Easley&squo;s website, SaveWaterNC at One additional tip not mentioned at the website is to put containers in the shower with you to catch water as you shower. Save this water for your plants.