Update: Salisbury has filed drought plans

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Update: City officials say they sent a water shortage response plan to state authorities on Thursday morning.
“They now have it and we’re no longer on the list,” Doug Paris, assistant to City Manager David Treme, said.

RALEIGH ń State officials this week notified 55 municipal water systems, including Salisbury and East Spencer, that since their water systems had not submitted an updated water shortage response plan, the new drought law requires them to implement the state’s default water use reduction measures.
Salisbury supplies water to East Spencer.
Water shortage response plans are required from local governments and large community water systems to describe how the water system would respond to drought and other water emergencies to continue to meet public water supply needs.
The state’s default water use reduction measures call on systems to enact specific water conservation rules regarding uses such as lawn watering that users must follow during the worst levels of drought.
The new law requires water systems without a water shortage response plan to begin the default water use reduction measures within 10 days if the system’s water comes from an area experiencing extreme or exceptional drought.
Each system contacted by the state Division of Water Resources is also required to notify the division within 72 hours of putting in place the default measures.
The Division of Water Resources is working with municipal water systems to ensure the systems are developing plans that bring them into compliance with the regulatory requirements.
As directed by the General Assembly, the state Environmental Management Commission required municipal water systems to update their water shortage response plans in 2007 and submit them on July 1, 2008, along with their 2007 local water supply plans.
However, some water systems still don’t have updated plans and others have plans that may not be adequate during times of extreme or exceptional drought.
The 2008 law for the first time gives the state the authority to review and approve the plans to ensure that they are adequate to respond to different levels of drought.
If a water system does not have a water shortage response plan, the new law requires the water system to implement the minimum water conservation measures for extreme and exceptional drought set out in rules adopted by the Environmental Management Commission in July 2006.
Water systems that have a water shortage response plan must put than plan into action. In situations of extreme or exceptional drought, the new law allows the department to require a local water system to implement the next level of water conservation measures required under the local plan if measures already in effect are not reducing water use.
“The purpose is to have measures in place that will protect the water supply in times of serious drought,” said Tom Reeder, director of the N.C. Division of Water Resources. “If each water system takes steps to conserve, we can reduce the risk of a water shortage emergency.”
The water systems received notification in letters that were both mailed and sent electronically earlier this week.
Of the 55 municipal water systems notified, 21 systems submitted updated water shortage response plans for review by the Division of Water Resources.
The area water systems that received notification letters and whose plans have not been received include: Davie County, Denton, East Spencer, Mocksville, Norwood, Pfeiffer-North Stanly Water Association and Salisbury.
The list is subject to change because the state Division of Water Resources continues to receive water shortage response plans from some systems.
The Division of Water Resources recently created a Web page to help North Carolinians better understand the drought’s impacts, water conservation tips and actions taken to better respond to the drought and combat its effects.
The Web page contains a copy and a summary of the new drought law, including new requirements on water shortage response plans.
The page can be found at http://www.ncwater.org/drought/.
For an overview of the requirements on water shortage response plans, go to page 5 of the drought bill summary.
To read the state’s default water use reduction measures, go to http://www.ncwater.org/drought/ and click on the heading “For Water Systems” and then the bulleted item called “Water use during drought rules.” The default rules begin on page 6 of that document.