Rock Hill officials are encouraging residents to conserve water as the region moves through a dry summer.
The request comes after the Catawba-Wateree River Basin declared a drought watch based on recent dry conditions. With more dry weather expected this fall, city officials say they want to be proactive in asking for voluntary cutbacks.
"Things are just starting to drop a little bit below normal," said public services administrator Jimmy Bagley. "Some of the other cities have said they're not going to make a big deal about it. We wanted to go ahead and alert people."
The city has asked residents to conserve since the last drought ended in 2008. With the declaration last week of a Stage 0 drought, the mildest possible warning level, officials decided to renew the call.
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Rainfall on Wednesday and Thursday helped, but not enough to change the long-term outlook.
"We're asking for mindset changes," Bagley said. "Not just temporary changes based on local conditions."
Rock Hill landscaper Scott Reister said the advance warning is helpful, especially for homeowners who water their lawns with automatic sprinklers. Reister encourages an old-fashioned approach: Turn on the sprinkler when you need it.
"Everyone wants an automated lifestyle," Reister said. "Most people have their irrigation set to go on a certain number of days a week, regardless of the weather. We replace more plants from over-watering than from under-watering."
A half-inch of rain fell in the Rock Hill area over the past week, much less than parts of Charlotte that received up to 4 inches. Weather patterns point to more dry days heading into the fall, meteorologists said.
"We should still have bouts of rainfall - this week is a good example," said Philippe Papin of the National Weather Service. "But those are going to be less frequent than normal."
City officials suggest the following voluntary measures:
Use no more than 350 gallons per household per day;
For landscape design and maintenance, use low-volume, handheld watering applications. Reduce the use of sprinklers and irrigation systems to no more than two days per week;
Reduce washing sidewalks, walkways, driveways, parking lots and tennis courts;
Reduce washing buildings for purposes other than fire protection;
Reduce washing motorbikes, boats and cars;
Reduce the use of fountains, reflection ponds and decorative water bodies, except when necessary to support fish.