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GRDadof3

"Exceptional" drought in Southeastern United States

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Saw this article in the New York Times. The Southeastern United States has reached such a drought crisis that they are saying that if they don't get significant rain soon, reservoirs may start to dry up in less than 6 months.

It's interesting that the droughts seems to closely follow high growth areas along I-85, from North Carolina, through S.C., Atlanta metro and into Alabama (from the Triangle down to Birmingham, AL), and up through Tennessee.

2007droughtgraphic.jpg

New York Times Article

Officials in the central North Carolina town of Siler City estimate that without rain, they are 80 days from draining the Lower Rocky River Reservoir, which supplies water for the town

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As a resident of an area affected by this exceptional drought (I live only a couple of miles from I-85 in Charlotte) I will say that much of this is because of how this area has become accustomed to living. This area is drowning in its attempts to grow grass that shouldn't be grown for example, and to keep it green lawns are watered constantly. Even with the drought folks are watering their lawns, washing their cars at home, etc. In the southwestern states I'm certain that they have learned to deal with it, something we really haven't had to do.

It will be interesting (and scary) to see just how long this drought does last and what changes in lifestyles will be seen once the drought is over.

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I read the article as well. The summers of 1986 and 1999 were memorably brutal; however this one is another league of seriousness. I think the 1st wake-up call as to how bad this one would get to be was fire season in the spring - the SE is usually damp enough that it's not like a California-type thing, but that Okeefenokee fire that burned 900 sq mi over 8 weeks in the spring was definitely unusual, and at this point one stray cigarette butt and half a county might go up in flames. It shows in development patterns across the south a certain amount of taking for granted the unique resources of this region - it is usually wet enough that no one ever expects that you could realistically hit a limit of what the region could accomodate, until it actually starts to happen.

It should be remembered that several deserts in the world became deserts during recorded human history.

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It should be remembered that several deserts in the world became deserts during recorded human history.

Indeed, one only has to look at the Aral Sea in Kazakhstan where water bound for the sea was diverted for irrigation purposes. For those of you who need a photo reference of just how big of an impact this type of thing can have:

800px-AralShip.jpg

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Ahh yeah, I live right in the middle of the darkest spot. I've never seen anything like this. We had to stop boating in August because the lake levels dropped so low, it was no longer safe to use the boat ramps. Given that we are talking about 50,000 acres of lakes I would have never thought that I couldn't boat due to the lack of water.

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^

Ditto for Jordan and Falls in the Triangle, and I'd bet everything else in the state. Falls Lake is getting to be in terrible shape; it's at the top of the Neuse watershed, and the rivers that feed into it are tiny, so when it starts to go empty, it will take a long time to re-fill.

I've been following the acrimony surrounding those proposed transfers out of the Catawba watershed into Cabarrus, and - I'm thinking of SoCal's notorious water history (early 20th century, specifically), and suddenly I'm starting to think we'll be seeing a lot more of those kinds of disputes around the state.

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Indeed. South Carolina has filed a federal lawsuit against NC to stop it from happening.

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New York Times Article

Officials in the central North Carolina town of Siler City estimate that without rain, they are 80 days from draining the Lower Rocky River Reservoir, which supplies water for the town's 8,200 people.

I always assumed the desert Southwest would reach a water crisis first from overgrowth. :huh: Is it because in the desert Southwest, people are more accustomed to using less water?

(I thought this might get more attention in the Coffee House, but feel free to move it monsoon if you think it would be more appropriate elsewhere)

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^This is the very reason the Cabarrus community in NC wants to do the water transfer that SC is protesting. They have run out of water and as a result can't support the ongoing sprawl there.

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Maybe they should let the price of water float and privatise the water supply. In shortages high prices would lead to less use and if a profit motive were created means would be devised to distribute water efficently across the nation.

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Maybe they should let the price of water float and privatise the water supply. In shortages high prices would lead to less use and if a profit motive were created means would be devised to distribute water efficently across the nation.

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Seems like most all of our water sources for the larger cities in the SE consist of a river that is dammed to create a lake. Think that more cities might invest in more reservoirs after this drought is over with?

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Maybe they should let the price of water float and privatise the water supply. In shortages high prices would lead to less use and if a profit motive were created means would be devised to distribute water efficently across the nation.

Actually in Cabarrus County there are higher charges for water for using more than a certain amount, the price goes up higher if you are not within the county seat, Concord:

Residential within the city of Concord, NC:

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In Greensboro, NC we have a resevoir/dam thats full of water (Randleman Dam) but the city cant get water from it because they havent built the treatment plant yet. That water source wont be available for another 3 years. Blame it on those folks that fought the building of the Randleman Dam for decades. Plans were under way for this dam 40 years ago and after a long battle its just now getting complete. Meanwhile Greensboro suffers from severe drought as well. Greensboro, High Point and Burlington are all under mandatory water restrictions In Greensboro it is illegal to wash your cars at home.

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This all stems from the problem that a lot of people in this country have: they think that as long as you want something, you're entitled to have it. If you want to live in a big house in the suburbs with a green lawn and a shiny SUV, then you ought to be able to have it. That if you don't mind paying a higher water bill, or power bill, or gas bill, then you're entitled to use as much as you want. Cram too many of these people together (like there are along the I-85 corridor) and there will be consequences.

I wonder if folks in the sprawlburbs are praying for rain.

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Finally had a nice soaking rain today across much of the southeast but no where near enough to put a dent in the drought.

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Several areas in the Richmond metro are under voluntary water restrictions and I don't understand the need to have the greenest grass. Maybe because I hate cutting grass now... I am more than happy to see it dead. I am also amazed by the number of people turning in their neighbors for watering on the wrong days. They admit the James is low, but it's not dangerously low. I find it neat a lot of people can walk across the rocks from one side of the river to another. Some of the reservoirs are low and I can understand the restrictions for those who use the water from them... but grass is not that important! It'll grow back... At least we haven't gotten to the point of $1000 fines or my state is not suing a neighboring sister state.

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The best solution is desalinating water from the Atlantic Ocean and running artery pipelines to the piedmont regions in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. It would be very expensive but maybe the federal government could pay for it instead of funding a useless war in Iraq.

I also believe the drought is directly responsible for the disease and staph infection out breaks that have been occuring in the Triad area of North Carolina.

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The best solution is desalinating water from the Atlantic Ocean and running artery pipelines to the piedmont regions in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. It would be very expensive but maybe the federal government could pay for it instead of funding a useless war in Iraq.

I also believe the drought is directly responsible for the disease and staph infection out breaks that have been occuring in the Triad area of North Carolina.

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The best solution is desalinating water from the Atlantic Ocean and running artery pipelines to the piedmont regions in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. It would be very expensive but maybe the federal government could pay for it instead of funding a useless war in Iraq.

I also believe the drought is directly responsible for the disease and staph infection out breaks that have been occuring in the Triad area of North Carolina.

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The best solution is desalinating water from the Atlantic Ocean and running artery pipelines to the piedmont regions in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. It would be very expensive but maybe the federal government could pay for it instead of funding a useless war in Iraq.

I also believe the drought is directly responsible for the disease and staph infection out breaks that have been occuring in the Triad area of North Carolina.

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I just read in the Hartford Courant today that Atlanta has approximately 90 days of water left. It's frightening to imagine a MAJOR American city with only 90 days of water left. As dire an emergency as this is, you can bank on Atlanta to continue to grow unfettered.....

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But, even though I live in this area, why should we keep fueling the bad growth that has taken place here? If you just keep creating a temporary solution to a big problem, then you just keep digging yourself a bigger hole.

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This whole situation really sickens me. I was driving to class yesterday through one of the more wealthy area of my city to see almost every home being saturated with water by underground sprinkler systems at 9:00 in the morning. While I and others try to do the right thing by conserving the little bit of water we have left, others are wasting it away like it's going out of style. When will people wake up and realize there are other humans out there beside themselves?

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This whole situation really sickens me. I was driving to class yesterday through one of the more wealthy area of my city to see almost every home being saturated with water by underground sprinkler systems at 9:00 in the morning. While I and others try to do the right thing by conserving the little bit of water we have left, others are wasting it away like it's going out of style. When will people wake up and realize there are other humans out there beside themselves?

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