WILMINGTON -- We are now in the midst of the worst drought in North Carolina history. Rainfall deficits statewide range from ten to over 20 inches, with Wilmington nearly two feet below normal. That lack of rain is keeping one organization very busy. The Army Corps of Engineers has the responsibility of managing all the lakes and dams throughout North Carolina. During a drought, like the one we're now having, the corps has the job of balancing the competing demands for water supply and water quality. Chief of hydrology Greg Williams said, "Some of the big things really is balancing upstream versus downstream. Most of the upstream concerns have to do with water supply and whoever is drawing water out of the lake. There is also recreation interests upstream for people that boat and fish on the lake." "The downstream interests with users, water supply intakes in the river itself and they need a certain amount of water in the river to be able to draw water." The water supply for New Hanover and Brunswick Counties comes from the Cape Fear River before it reaches lock and dam 1. New Hanover's County's water goes through this canal, while Brunswick County's water intake is underwater. Unlike many other parts of the states those of us in the Cape Fear region are fortunate -- our water supply is OK. "I think it's because of the way we have been able to stay ahead and get on front end of drought and manage Jordan better. Also because Wilmington is at the bottom of the river." We also benefited from the little rain we did get at the end of last month. Water control manager Daniel Emerson said, "The five inches that we received at B. Everett Jordan the 25th of October really helped the outlook of the drought." The local Army Corps of Engineers monitors Jordan's lake levels closely, since the water from Jordan flows into the Cape Fear River. The good news is that the levels at Lake Jordan are not expected to drop much through the end of the year. "During the winter months, everything is cooler. When and if we do get rain, the leaves will have fallen. Typically during the winter months there is less water use, so what i predicted is that there will be a slow drop in the lake level." This prediction sounds good since long term forecasts continue to indicate that a dry winter and spring could lie ahead. Another reason why it's important for us to continue to conserve water every chance we get.
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