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Darts and laurels

Dart to indications that North Carolina is slipping back into the summer drought syndrome that created such withering misery last year ó and in several years previous. According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor report, 97 percent of the state ó that’s all but three counties ó is in some form of drought, up from 65 percent last week. While we had a couple of months of adequate rainfall in the spring, that wasn’t enough to offset earlier deficits. Now, streamflows are falling again, just as temperatures are rising toward the fiery heart of summer. In Rowan County, we’re fortunate that the Yadkin River provides a reliable and abundant supply of water for local residents and businesses. It’s a selling point for the county, as economic development boosters ó and Salisbury-Rowan Utilities ó recognize. But while touting the availability of this resource, city and county leaders also need to stress the importance of wise stewardship. North Carolina’s population grew 20 percent between 1990 and 2000 and is projected to grow another 50 percent by 2030. With the Charlotte region expected to get a heavy influx of those new residents, water will be more valuable than ever.
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While we’re on the subject, laurels to the comeback of plain old tap water ó and perhaps even some common sense. Evian-sipping Americans ó think of them as aqua-elitists ó finally appear to be losing their enchantment with bottled water, according to an Associated Press report. Rising grocery and fuel prices are apparently weaning people away from their boutique water addiction. This follows previous articles noting that pricey bottled water has no taste or health advantages over plain old tap water. Plus, the costs rapidly add up. The AP calculated that at standard rates of consumption, Costco’s cheapest bottled water would cost the user over $400 a year. More expensive brands run into the thousands of dollars over a year. The American Water Works Association says drinking the same amount of tap water costs 51 cents a year. Of course, if you want to maintain appearances, there’s a simple solution: Tote around a pricey plastic container, but refill it from the tap.
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Dart to increases in crime that are linked at least in part to the economic slowdown and rising prices. Along with increases in gasoline theft and catalytic converter heists, shoplifting is also on the upswing, according to retailers around the country. A recent story in U.S.A. Today noted that it isn’t just customers who are trying to pilfer goods; more employees are getting sticky fingers, too. While shoplifting has long been a multibillion-dollar headache for merchants, the economic slump has brought a shift. In the past, thieves were usually trying to finance a drug habit. Now, merchants say they’re seeing more thefts involving groceries and medicine.

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