Drought

Nearly every part of the U.S. experiences periods of reduced rainfall. Planning in advance for a drought can protect us in dry years. 

  1. Before a Drought

The best way to prepare for a drought is to conserve water. There are simple things you can do to save water and make conservation a part of daily life.

Indoor Conservation

General

  • 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.
  • Fix dripping faucets by replacing washers on them. One drop per second wastes 2,700 gallons of water a year.
  • Check all plumbing for leaks and have any leaks repaired by a plumber.
  • Retrofit all household faucets by installing aerators with flow restrictors.
  • Install an instant hot water heater on your sink.
  • Insulate your water pipes to reduce heat loss and prevent them from breaking.
  • Install a water-softening system only when the minerals in the water would damage your pipes. Turn the softener off while on vacation.
  • Choose appliances that are more energy and water efficient.

Bathroom

  • Consider purchasing a low-volume toilet that uses less than half the water of older models.
  • Install a toilet displacement device to cut down on the amount of water needed to flush. Place a one-gallon plastic jug of water into the tank to displace toilet flow. Make sure it does not interfere with the operating parts.
  • Replace your showerhead with an ultra-low-flow version.

Kitchen

  • Instead of using the garbage disposal, throw food in the garbage or start a compost pile to dispose it.

Outdoor Conservation

General

  • If you have a well pump, check it periodically. If the automatic pump turns on and off while water is not being used, you have a leak.
  • Plant native and/or drought-tolerant grasses, ground covers, shrubs and trees. Once established, your plants won't need as much watering. Group plants together based on similar water needs.  Check out the North Carolina Extension Gardener Handbook from NC State Extension.
  • Don't install ornamental water features (such as fountains) unless they use re-circulated water.
  • Consider rainwater harvesting where practical. Learn about rain barrels that you can purchase from the County's Soil & Water Conservation team.
  • Learn more about gardening techniques and resources from the NHC Arboretum.
  • Contact your local water provider for information and assistance. 

Lawn Care

  • Position sprinklers so water lands on the lawn and shrubs and not on paved areas.
  • Repair sprinklers that spray a fine mist.Check sprinkler systems and timing devices regularly to be sure they operate properly.
  • Raise the lawn mower blade to at least three inches or to its highest level. A higher cut encourages grass roots to grow deeper and holds soil moisture.
  • Plant drought-resistant lawn seed. Reduce or eliminate lawn areas that are not used frequently.
  • Don't over-fertilize your lawn. Applying fertilizer increases the need for water. Apply fertilizers that contain slow-release, water-insoluble forms of nitrogen.
  • Choose a water-efficient irrigation system such as drip irrigation for your trees, shrubs and flowers.
  • Water manually in fall and winter only if needed.
  • Use mulch around trees and plants to retain moisture in the soil. Mulch also helps control weeds that compete with plants for water.
  • Invest in a weather-based irrigation controller—or a smart controller. These devices will automatically adjust the watering time and frequency based on soil moisture, rain, wind, and evaporation and transpiration rates. 

Pools

  • Install a water-saving pool filter. A single back flushing with a traditional filter uses 180 to 250 gallons of water.
  • Cover pools and spas to reduce water evaporation
  1. During a Drought
  1. Additional Resources