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Easley signs drought bill

Gov. Mike Easley signed into law today legislation that changes how North Carolina will respond to droughts.

Surrounded by state lawmakers and environmental officials, Easley said the legislation gives the state new tools to use before and during water shortages.

“We're not on the path to modernize every water system in the state,” he said.

The legislation makes it easier for the governor to declare a drought emergency, including local emergencies. It also lets the state require localities to enforce conservation measures, and it requires users of more than 10,000 gallons of water a day for agriculture to report usage to state agricultural officials.

“It was badly needed, as North Carolina enters a situation where we don't have as much water as we used to and the demands are much greater,” said House Speaker Joe Hackney, an Orange County Democrat.