Editorial: Drought bill alone won't do job
Star-News of Wilmington
If North Carolinians have learned anything from the drought, it’s that we can’t take water for granted and that we need a comprehensive, statewide policy to prevent a dry spell from turning into full-blown crisis. A new law, signed July 31 by Gov. Mike Easley, attempts to do that.
The governor will have the authority to step in before a water shortage occurs and a state of emergency is required. He, or she, will be able to require water systems to share their water and to order water-saving measures for specific communities.
In a nod to local autonomy, cities and counties will be able to determine how they meet the conservation requirements, although state officials will be able to mandate other steps if local efforts don’t sufficiently cut usage.
The law doesn’t regulate water use by small farmers and owners of private wells, although well owners are often among the first to be affected when groundwater levels drop.
What the bill doesn’t do is remind us that, drought or no drought, water is a resource that must not be wasted. As our state grows, so will the demand for water.
A few recent frog-chokers in our area make it easy to forget that much of North Carolina is still suffering from a deep drought.
In some counties, it’s even worse than last year.
So far, no areas have faced a serious water shortage, a situation that could incite panic.
Sensible conservation, such as fixing leaks, using rain barrels and turning off the faucet rather than letting it run unnecessarily, may go a long way in preventing a water crisis.