06/24/08 — Not water-logged: Governor is right about one thing: Drought is a worry

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Not water-logged: Governor is right about one thing: Drought is a worry

When the rains came, we rejoiced and heaved a sigh of relief — the long-awaited end of the drought was finally here.

So, out came the hoses and swimming pools, and once-wilting plants were now back to their green lushness.

So it might be easy to understand why some people might think that drought rule changes proposed by Gov. Mike Easley might not be a priority, not this legislative session anyway.

The problem is that now that we have seen some rain and have felt some lessening of the restrictions on when we can use water — we are a little complacent that we have fended off that drought that gripped the area just a few months ago.

But that’s the problem. If the state and local governments do not make plans, adjust rules and keep the public informed about the need for continued conservation, we will be right back where we were.

Easley has proposed a variety of changes in how the state handles water emergencies as well as some basic plans for managing a drought. The legislature is expected to consider the measure, but its members are not sure they can reach an agreement in time to get the measure passed before the end of this session.

And that is something North Carolina residents should consider not allowing.

This state needs a plan for handling water usage, conservation and regulation not only when drought conditions are present, but when the levels are good.

Rushing a plan just to have a plan is not the right answer, but neither is not even trying simply because lawmakers want to go home.

In recent weeks, water officials around the state have been warning that the drought is not over — and they have advised residents to continue to practice conservation measures.

And if you look at the levels of the Neuse River in this area — which is fed by other tributaries from upstate — you will see that the water is not as high as it was just a few weeks ago. While rain alone does not affect the Neuse levels, it is a hint that perhaps water might be an important concern as the area moves forward.

The governor’s plan might not be perfect, but it is a step toward a statewide strategy for dealing with drought that amounts to more than “wait for rain” and cute commercials with children.

And with 97 counties already in some form of drought, it can’t come too soon.

Published in Editorials on June 24, 2008 1:12 PM