Friday, August 12, 2022

Tri-county officials urge water conservation and fire prevention practices amid moderate drought

Brunswick, Pender and New Hanover counties utility systems have requested consumers conserve water and be mindful of fire prevention as the southeast coast is under moderate drought warning. (Port City Daily/Courtesy Pexels, by Steve Johnson)

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — As temperatures approach the 80s and 90s this weekend along the southeast coast, moderate levels of drought are projected to continue as well. The National Weather Service has noted a rainfall deficit of more than 5 inches since March and is reporting clear skies this weekend, with little chance of rain.

Because of continuous dry conditions, officials have urged residents to conserve water, as well as remain mindful of properly extinguishing fires and practicing safe burns. 

“In drought conditions, sparks can easily lead to wildfires,” Tommy Batson, Pender County emergency manager, said in a release. “Douse the embers with water before walking away from an outdoor wood fire.”

The N.C. Management Drought Advisory has listed southeastern N.C. as “D1,” under a moderate drought warning. In addition to preventing fires, the Pender County utilities director, Kenny Keel, said residents should carefully monitor water usage. This includes fixing leaky faucets and preventing water from extraneously running while grooming, like shaving or brushing teeth.

Keel also asked residents to space out watering their lawns and gardens to every three to five days, instead of doing so daily at shorter intervals.

“Never overwater,” he added. “This damages plants and our soils do not store extra water.”

“Lawns need an average of just one inch of water per week – including rainfall – to remain healthy,” Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) noted in a release.

Brunswick County Public Utilities (BCPU) issued a Stage 1 alert, asking customers to conserve water, and CFPUA is asking customers to irrigate lawns and gardens on a proposed schedule until further notice: Refrain from watering on Mondays. Odd-number addresses can irrigate on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday; even addresses can do so Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Irrigation systems should be scheduled between midnight and 6 a.m.

Courtesy CFPUA

BCPU wants to keep below “80% of the available production and distribution capacity” and is reporting it’s at peak demand currently. To help lessen the burden on the system, Brunswick is following the same irrigation scheduling as CFPUA, and asking residents to water lawns and gardens at nightfall — away from peak hours of 5 a.m. – 11 a.m.

Other tips include:

  • Do not overwater your yard. One inch of water per week in the summer will keep most types of grass healthy. To determine how long you need to run your sprinkler to provide 1-inch of water, place straight edged cans at different distances from your sprinkler and time how long it takes to fill an average of 1-inch of water in each can. Water occasionally but deeply to encourage deeper rooting that makes grass more drought/heat tolerant.
  • Install rain shut-off devices on automatic sprinkler systems.
  • Do not water pavement and impervious surfaces.
  • Limit lawn watering to that necessary for plant survival. Water lawns outside of the peak demand hours of 5 a.m. to 11 a.m.; preferably after nightfall.
  • Water shrubbery the minimum required. Water shrubbery outside of the peak demand hours of 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. Use drip irrigation systems in shrubbery beds and around trees to prevent water loss through evaporation.
  • Use abundant mulch around trees and shrubs to retain moisture.
  • Plant drought-tolerant grasses, trees, and plants.
  • Adjust mower height to a higher setting to retain moisture.
  • Limit the use of clothes washers and dishwashers and when used, operate fully loaded. Operate dishwashers outside of the peak demand hours of 5 a.m. to 11 a.m., preferably after nightfall.
  • Limit vehicle washing to a minimum. Use commercial car washes that recycle water.
  • Use shower for bathing rather than bathtub and limit shower to no more than five minutes.
  • Inspect and repair all faulty and defective parts of faucets and toilets. Pay attention to dripping sounds.
  • Do not leave faucets running while shaving, brushing teeth, rinsing, or preparing food.
  • Do not wash down outside areas such as sidewalks, driveways, patios, etc.
  • Install water-saving showerheads and other water conservation devices.
  • Install water-saving devices in toilets such as early closing flappers.
  • Limit hours of water-cooled air conditioners.
  • Keep drinking water in a container in the refrigerator instead of running water from a faucet until it is cool.
  • Fill or top off swimming pools only from dusk until dawn.
  • Cover pool and spas when not in use to prevent evaporation.
  • Use disposable and biodegradable dishes where possible.

Restrictions also affect folks on Bald Head Island, Holden Beach, Leland, Oak Island, Ocean Isle Beach, Shallotte, Southport, and customers of Brunswick Regional – H2GO (Belville), as the utilities get their water from BCPU.

“Residents will be notified if any other conservation measures are needed and when conditions dictate that restrictions are no longer required,” according to Brunswick’s release.

Information and any updates can be found for Brunswick County at, Pender County at and New Hanover County at

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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