Drought update: Hold your water

So the weather forecast for December includes predictions of showers, and the past few weeks have seen some rainfall. But the appearance of precipitation in the area, however welcome, doesn’t mean the drought is over.

“We got very little [rain],” says Ron Kerns, operations manager for Asheville’s Water Department. “We got less than half an inch, to tell you the truth.”

The city of Asheville remains in voluntary water-conservation status, a measure that Kerns says has had a noticeable effect on the demand from the North Fork and Mills River water plants. “We’re really hoping we don’t need to go into mandatory conservation,” he adds. If such a measure is implemented, Asheville water customers would have to put the kibosh on activities like watering lawns and washing cars, activities that Kerns notes typically drop in winter months anyway.

Meanwhile, a statewide burn ban issued by the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources remains in place. A reminder from Asheville Fire and Rescue that went out on Dec. 4 warns of penalties for not only open burns, but also for the use of candle luminaries—a holiday tradition for many.

Kerns says the drought situation is the region’s worst since 1998, and shows little chance of letting up soon.

“It looks like this is going to be a dry winter,” he notes. “This is going to be going on for awhile.”

The city maintains an ongoing report on its water-restriction measures on its Web site—www.asheville.gov—along with an explanation of the computer-modeling methods used to determine conservation policy and what those measures mean for water customers.

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