Conserve water now or face water restrictions soon, Gov. Mark Sanford told Upstate residents Monday.
July thunderstorms have put a dent in drought conditions along the coast and in the Midlands, but the rains have been sparse in the Upstate, where conditions were the worst heading into this month.
With that in mind, the governor recommended conservation. Sanford urged people "to do what they can at home and at work to impact their water use because doing what we can to conserve now could help avoid restrictions later on."
Cherokee, Greenville, Oconee, Pickens and Spartanburg counties on June 30 were designated in the worst drought classification, extreme. The rest of the state is either in the severe or moderate drought category. The state drought committee will meet Aug. 5 to consider changes.
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Since the June 30 meeting, conditions have improved in some areas. Effingham, Cheraw and Edisto Beach have had nearly 10 inches of rain, about double the normal rainfall, in the past 30 days, according to state climatologist Hope Mizzell.
But Clemson (1.2 inches) and Greer (2.36 inches) have received little rain in that period.
Water in Lake Hartwell in the Upstate and Lake Thurmond, fed by Upstate rains, is about 10 feet below normal.
While conditions aren't as serious in the Midlands, they could worsen quickly in the heat of summer. Mizzell stressed that everyone should do his or her part to be a better steward of the state's limited water.