Monday, February 18, 2008

The Drought of North Carolina

Some of you may know that we are in the middle of a 2-year drought. In our county, the drought is at a serious level - D4: Exceptional Drought Conditions. Climate control says that this is the driest year in 113 years of recorded weather in North Carolina.

Falls Lake is the primary source of water for our county and covers over 12,000 acres of land. They're saying that if we don't get some relief before the summer months, the lake will run dry. Our county has about 80 days of water left - some counties have half that - many counties are completely out and getting water from areas nearby. Falls Lake is almost 8 feet below its normal level.

This weekend, we decided to drive up to the lake to see for ourselves. The sights were shocking. Gnarled roots of lakeside trees were dry and exposed. Buoys at the end of fishing docks were resting on the ground of the lake bed. Barren trees were toppled. While driving over one of the many bridges of Falls Lake, it was like looking at a landscape of mini islands everywhere - so much of the water had subsided.

As I was taking pictures, it felt strange walking on the floor of the lake. I found old stumps where I could imagine fish hiding from the shadows of overhead boats. I found crumpled and faded aluminum cans lodged in the sand. And thousands of beautiful river rocks like a blanket covering the shore.

We tried to explain the seriousness of a drought to my daughter. How in certain parts of the world, droughts have resulted in famine and starvation. It's really striking, when you think about it, how dependent we are on the resources of the earth and how suddenly they can disappear.

And so we've installed our low-flow shower heads and reduced our water consumption as much as possible. Instead of throwing out the stale water in the dog bowl, I pour it in the plants. We turn the water off when brushing our teeth and as much as possible while doing the dishes. My car hasn't been washed in months (although that's not really because of the water restrictions, it really is because I just never wash my car... much to my husbands chagrin - but now I have good reason!) and we don't water the plants outside.

But on those days when we do get a little rain, oh, it's such a relief. I feel like the earth is gulping it in, I can almost see the joy in the trees.

I know our lake will survive - I have hope and, now, a deep respect for the waters of the earth.

(See more photos from our trip at Sunniviews...)


Donna said...

Oh my gosh Jen. It looks so bad. I've seen it on tv, but when reminded again, it's kinda scary.
I'm glad we're ok in our county, but we still all need to conserve our precious water.
Great pics!

The French Nest said...

Thanks for visiting my blog! Love the pictures you've posted!

chocolate girl said...

the lake looks so sad....rain is good :)we are having a weeks worth of rain here in california, hopefully it will be on it's way to you and your lake :)


Abby Creek Art said...

I love the photo you took. They look like rock and stump people!

Alexandra, Writing & Baking Enthusiast said...

Sunni ~ I've been keeping up with those drought restrictions in your area on NPR. We are, after all, just next door. I have been doing the same, quick showers, no running water while teeth brushing, recycling water for plants. We are not to wash cars or do pressure washing here, though the local car washes are busy. But those pressure washers use much less than average citizens who will let the water run and run on the ground until they need it to rinse or whatever. Yes, hope we get lots of spring rains. It is very serious.

Manspace said...

These are the kind of pix that would look good in Our State magazine. Great dramatic characterizations of the drought in NC.
Love, Dad

Pherenike said...

I had no idea about your lake. I hope the situation improves for your part of the world.
Isn't it strange how disconnectedly we live from nature, out water arrives through pipes and most of us think nothing of it until something happens.