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Severe drought expands in Charlotte area

The river bottom is exposed at a cove as water levels have dropped on the Catawba River in Mecklenburg County on Thursday July 2, 2015.
The river bottom is exposed at a cove as water levels have dropped on the Catawba River in Mecklenburg County on Thursday July 2, 2015. rlahser@charlotteobserver.com

Severe drought has expanded in the Charlotte region since last week to include much of Mecklenburg, Union and Catawba counties, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

As of July 28, only Gaston and Cleveland counties and all but the eastern end of Lincoln County were experiencing severe drought in the region.

Except for Rutherford County, no other counties in the state are experiencing severe drought, according to the Drought Monitor.

Water conservation remains voluntary for now, including in Charlotte.

The percentage of the state now under severe drought stands at about 5 percent, up from 2 percent last week, and that’s all in the Charlotte area, Mark Svoboda of the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Neb., said Thursday.

But a much larger swath of the state is experiencing abnormally dry conditions, including many counties east of the Charlotte area, the latest U.S. Drought Monitor maps show.

Nearly 60 percent of the state is now under the “abnormally dry” designation compared with about 39 percent last week.

On July 20, Charlotte Water asked for voluntary water conservation, and Duke Energy in late July asked everyone who uses water from area lakes for irrigation to voluntarily limit watering to Tuesdays and Saturdays.

The N.C. Drought Management Council added six counties this week to Stage 2 Severe Drought, including Mecklenburg and Gaston.

Residents from Charlotte to Winston-Salem were recently asked to voluntarily conserve water, including limiting car washing and watering grass.

Duke Energy, which manages the chain of lakes under federal license, also has increased surveillance of its public boating access areas. So far, two of four ramps at the Buster Boyd Access Area on Lake Wylie are closed, as are all four ramps at the Allison Creek Access Area on the lake in York County, S.C., according to The (Rock Hill) Herald.

Staff Writer Steve Harrison contributed.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak

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