03/21/06 — City facing drought woes

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City facing drought woes

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on March 21, 2006 1:45 PM

The roads are wet and light rain is expected to continue today, but city officials fear another drought is on the way.

At their work session Monday, Goldsboro City Council members were briefed by Public Utilities Director Karen Brashear on low levels at the Neuse River intake, and the potential need to soon move into voluntary conservation of water.

"This is the driest season we have had in more than five decades," Mrs. Brashear said.

As of yesterday, water levels at the Neuse were at 51.6 feet at mean sea level (MSL), close to six inches below the 52-foot trigger for voluntary conservation of water. This trigger and others are defined in the Water Shortage Response Ordinance approved by council in November 2005.

Low levels have concerned officials for more than a year now. For much of the late fall and early winter months, Goldsboro was under voluntary conservation.

"In January and February combined, we've had less than three inches of rain," Mrs. Brashear said.

But rainfall last night and this morning are helping matters, she added -- just not enough to squelch worries over drought conditions here in Wayne County.

"This (rain) will be nice for the short term," Mrs. Brashear said. "It would be nice to have a rain like this every week, and we might catch up."

This morning, the levels had increased to 51.8 feet, she added. But measurements taken still fall below the 52-foot trigger.

"We're going to still be under," Mrs. Brashear said. "We might go over it (the trigger) by the end of the afternoon, but if it doesn't continue to rain, we're going to drop right back."

Near the conclusion of Monday's City Council meeting, City Manager Joe Huffman told residents that the water situation would be closely monitored and recommended that Mayor Al King hold off on declaring voluntary conservation.

"We're facing drought conditions," he said. "I think voluntary conservation recommendations could be made very soon."