Enquirer Herald

Easing water restrictions seems a bit premature

Clover may be the envy for many York County residents itching to wash the pollen off their cars.

The town recently decided to temporarily ease water restrictions, following its water supplier Gastonia's lead. Clover residents are now allowed to water their lawns once a week, fill fountains and pools and wash their cars using an automatic shut-off hose, activities previously banned.

Although we understand Spring fever is setting in, we urge locals to consider the consequences before using hundreds of gallons of water to fill up the backyard pool or water the front lawn.

Just one day prior to Clover's decision to ease restrictions, the Catawba-Wateree Drought Advisory Group sent out a press release recommending towns not loosen restrictions. Clover didn't get the memo before council voted, said town administrator Allison Harvey.

The advisory group, a collection of public works officials from around the region, said current Stage 3 drought rules should remain in effect, despite improving conditions, because rainfall for the year is still below normal. Groundwater and streamflow also haven't recovered, and warming temperatures threaten to worsen conditions.

Although looser, Clover's new restrictions are technically within the Stage 3 category, although the rest of York County continues to ban all watering.

While the only answer to this serious situation is rain -- and a whole lot of it -- it's clear that water conservation works.

Since restrictions were implemented last fall, public water consumption has been reduced by 15 percent to 30 percent, the drought advisory group reported.

However, we're not out of the woods yet.

Area streams are only flowing at 38 percent of their normal range. And although the groundwater level has stopped decreasing, it has not fully recovered. In fact, we're not in as good a shape now as we were last July, and we all know how drastically that changed.

Despite Clover's decision to ease restrictions, we think it may be a little premature to jump right into filling pools and watering lawns.

Sure, it's nice to have a lush green lawn, but if rainfall declines, as predicted, then warmer temperatures could quickly put the region into even worse drought conditions. And then all that work on the lawn will be for nothing if we're forced to go to Stage 4 conditions.