Drought is a natural climatic condition caused by an extended period of limited rainfall beyond that which occurs naturally. Nearly every part of our country experiences periods of reduced rainfall. Charlotte-Mecklenburg is no exception. The last drought in Mecklenburg County occurred in 2002 when an agricultural disaster was declared. If we plan for drought, then we can enjoy the benefits of normal or rainy years and not get caught unprepared in dry years.
There are efforts you can take indoors and outdoors to conserve water:
- Never pour water down the drain when there may be another use for it. For example, use it to water your indoor plants or garden.
- Repair dripping faucets by replacing washers. One drop per second wastes 2, 700 gallons of water per year.
- Check all plumbing for leaks and have any leaks repaired by a plumber.
- Insulate your water pipes to reduce heat loss and prevent them from breaking.
- Choose appliances that are more energy and water efficient.
- Consider purchasing a low-volume toilet that uses less than half the water of older models. Note: in many areas, low-volume units are required by law.
- Replace your showerhead with an ultra-low-flow version.
- Start a compost pile as an alternative method of disposing of food waste or simply dispose of food in the garbage. (Kitchen sink disposals require a lot of water to operate properly.)
- Plant native and/or drought-tolerant grasses, ground covers, shrubs, and trees. Once established, plants adapted to your local climate do not need water as frequently and usually will survive a dry period without watering.
- Use mulch to retain moisture in the soil. Mulch also helps control weeds that compete with landscape plants for water.
- Raise the lawn mower blade to at least three inches or to its highest level. A higher cut encourages grass roots to grow deeper, shades the root system, and holds soil moisture.
- Position sprinklers so water lands on the lawn and shrubs and not on paved areas.
- Consider rainwater harvesting where practical.
- Choose a water-efficient irrigation system such as drip irrigation for your trees, shrubs, and flowers.
- Cover pools and spas to reduce evaporation of water.
Keep in mind that drought may require safety precautions just like other weather hazards. Dry conditions often lead to brush fires or wildfires. Local officials may ask that you not burn brush or trash during dry conditions and comply with other safety precautions. In extreme fire conditions, officials may issue mandatory evacuation orders to protect your life.
Visit Charlotte Water's Drought Central Resources for more information on the levels of your drinking water sources and the Low Inflow Protocol (LIP), the drought management plan used by major water users in the region.