Area municipalities that aren’t already banning lawn watering should do so, because drought conditions are worsening, Duke Energy announced Thursday.

Duke declared a Stage 3 low inflow condition for the Catawba-Wateree River Basin, which affects municipalities surrounding Charlotte, including Gastonia, Lincolnton, Statesville and others.

Mecklenburg County became the first in the area to implement Stage 3 water restrictions last week, prohibiting all lawn watering. Duke wants other areas, which may be under lesser restrictions, to follow suit.

Duke says no local government should be allowing people to water their grass, but implementation and enforcement of those restrictions is up to each municipality.

More than half of North Carolina is now is the most severe category of drought.

A weekly report from the U.S. Drought Monitor says that 55 of the state’s 100 counties are now experiencing an “exceptional” drought. In all, 47 counties moved to “exceptional” from “extreme” drought conditions in the latest report.

Among those now listed in the worst category are the Triangle area counties of Wake, Johnston, Durham and Orange.

In the rest of the state, 31 counties are still in extreme drought, while 14 have moderate to severe drought conditions.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Video Link:WCNC Report, 10-3-2007

The following article is reporinted from the Charlotte Observer:

10 ways you can cope with our dry weather


Garden Editor, Charlotte Observer

We’re gardening in a time of drought. It’s something we’ve experienced a lot over the past decade — including one long stretch lasting five years. For the first time, lawn watering is now prohibited in Mecklenburg County and elsewhere in the Piedmont. And we’re being encouraged to conserve water in a lot of ways, including gardening. So, we’ll have to learn to live with dry times and embrace the techniques and strategies that make for smarter gardening in a drought. Here are some:

1.Embrace native plants. They tolerate dry weather. Some of our best plants: eastern redbud, purple coneflower, eastern columbine and black-eyed Susans (below). For an excellent guide to landscaping with native trees, shrubs and perennials:

2.Plan your landscape with water conservation in mind. Learn the water needs of plants before you buy them. For example, impatiens are thirsty plants for summer bedding, zinnias are not. Group plants that require steady watering together so you don’t water ones that don’t need it, such as many kinds of herbs and fuzzy-leaved perennials such as lambs ears.

3.Commit yourself to excellent bed preparation for your shrubs, flowers and vegetables this fall and next spring. Use compost and other organic materials to lighten clay soil and help it hold moisture without becoming soggy.

4. Use mulch, but not too much. Mulch your trees, shrubs and flower beds with pine needles, compost, leaf litter or finely shredded bark to conserve moisture. Mulch should be 2 to 4 inches deep. Don’t put mulch against tree trunks.

5.Create natural areas in places where it is difficult to grow grass, even under normal weather conditions. This includes under the canopy of large shade trees.

6.Don’t let clean water go down the drain. If you wait for the water to warm up before stepping in the shower, pop in a plastic bucket to catch this cool water. Apply the same technique in your kitchen with a large pitcher set under the faucet to catch any clean water that would otherwise go down the drain. Use it on your houseplants and container gardens.

7.Use ground covers. There are lots to choose from, including ajuga (below), hardy ferns, hellebores, creeping phlox and many more for sun or shade.

8.Use devices that drip, seep or ooze water in shrub and flower beds and vegetable gardens, where allowed, such as in Mecklenburg. Place these little hoses under mulch. Water will drip onto the root zones, and not be wasted by runoff. Best-known ones are called soaker hoses. Mulch reduces evaporation.

9.Get a rain barrel. This will capture rainfall (when it does fall) via a downspout directed into the barrel. Attach your hose to a faucet near the bottom. Barrels are sold widely. To see how they work: or, in greater detail,

10.Love your watering can. You’ll be more likely to use only what you need. Use it to water containers and newly planted shrubs and trees. You can put water on slowly, avoid runoff and let it flow exactly where you want it. Hand-watering is still allowed most places.


• New restrictions issued this week prohibit grass watering in Mecklenburg County and other places. Meanwhile, you can still water flowers, shrubs and trees and containers.

• So, should you be worried about the state of your lawn? If your fescue lawn is in reasonably good shape, it should recover as the weather cools and some rainfall arrives to perk it up. But don’t expect the rapid and robust growth you would see with steady rainfall or regular irrigation.

• What next? Just hold tight. The weather may be good enough for lawn renewal work, such as overseeding, in late October and November. And if necessary, we’ll just wait until late February or early March.

Nancy Brachey’s column, Ask Nancy, will focus on drought questions in coming weeks. Send yours to or call (704) 375-4892.