Drought drags on

Duke Energy's latest drought projection for the first time puts a hard deadline on when the water problem could turn into an emergency.

By mid-March, Duke says the shallowest water intakes on Catawba River reservoirs would have too little water over them to pump normally. That's unless significant rainfall arrives before then.

Duke calls it a worse-than-likely scenario, but already area officials are taking action.

• The York County Council will vote Monday on imposing a sprinkler ban already in effect in the city of Rock Hill.

• Fort Mill leaders will consider a similar ban Nov. 12.

"This will put the whole county on the same page," said County Public Works Director David Harmon.

Rain not in the forecast

A cold front is expected to move through the Rock Hill area beginning this afternoon, forecasters say, but it probably won't bring any rain. Temperatures should hover in the mid- to upper-60s for the next several days.

Dry weather is expected at least through next week.

"I'm afraid it's not good news," meteorologist Harry Gerapetritis of the National Weather Service said

Tips from readers

The Herald asked readers to share advice on conserving water. Here are some of your ideas. Got more? E-mail City Editor Sula Pettibon at spettibon@herald online.com.

"We have gone strictly to use of paper plates and bowls. And we re-use the same glasses for drinking water and soft drinks. With coffee cups, we rinse and reuse. This has helped us to run our dishwasher only once per week or every 10 days."

-- Paul Smith, Rock Hill

"Next to each plant, make a hole (using a broom stick or similar device) 5 to 6 inches deep. Fill the hole with water every two to three days. Plants need water at the roots, not on the surface."

-- Therese Emry, Fort Mill

"Perhaps you have not heard the term 'Navy shower.' In the past, many Navy ships could not make enough water for the crews to bathe. This procedure involved wetting down, turning off the shower, soaping your body, then turning the shower back on to wash off the soap."

-- Capt. Fred Perrill, Lake Wylie

"I use a trick I learned from my folks in Phoenix. While waiting for my shower water to turn warm, I catch the cold water in a large bucket. The water (that normally would have gone down the drain) is then used to keep shrubs alive, and water the few potted plants I have left."

-- Cheryl Porter, Fort Mill

Commonly asked questions

Q: When can I wash my car?

A: You can't. At least not at home. All car, boat and other vehicle washing is banned. All pressure washing and outdoor washing is off-limits, too. If you must wash your dirty vehicle, take it to a commercial car wash that recycles water.

Q: I need to aerate and seed my lawn. Can I get a special permit to water?

A: No. Utility officials are strongly discouraging all new landscaping because there won't be any exceptions to the watering rules.

Q: How can I report my neighbor for breaking the rules?

A: Call the city of Rock Hill's water hotline at 326-2450. Fines begin at $50 for first-time offenders. York County might announce its own hotline soon.

-- Matt Garfield and Kimberly Dick