York County and Fort Mill stepped up their drought listing. It will be a few days before they find out if the region will join them.
The area has several local, state and federal drought listings. Municipal water providers in the Catawba River Basin use Duke Energy’s low inflow protocol system to determine water saving measures and restrictions. It lists the area in Stage 0, drought watch.
However, York County announced Aug. 17 it would follow suit with the state drought response committee, which had upgraded the drought status of 17 counties. York County went into Stage 1 drought, with voluntary water use restrictions aimed at reducing water use by 3 to 5 percent.
On Aug. 23, Fort Mill put itself in Stage 1 voluntary restrictions. The town is asking residents to irrigate 6 p.m.-midnight Tuesdays and Saturdays, not to fill pools or wash cars at home, stop fountains and other measures.
Kim Crawford with Duke Energy said the region remains in a watch stage, with an update expected Sept. 1.
“Fort Mill and York County are reporting local data,” Crawford said. “The Catawba-Wateree River Basin is in Stage 0. We check the low inflow protocol drought status on the first day of each month.”
The South Carolina Drought Response Committee upgraded the drought status of 17 counties Aug. 17. All but seven counties statewide fall in the incipient drought category, the first of four levels. The seven — along the northwestern corner of the state — are in moderate drought, the second stage.
From June 1 to Aug. 15, the state expects 11 to 16 inches of rainfall. A monitoring station in Tega Cay recorded 6.34 inches.
The U.S. Drought Monitor varies from the South Carolina group. Of its five drought levels, parts of McCormick and Greenwood counties fall in the fourth, extreme drought. All or parts of five counties to the northwest come next in severe drought, with half the state including York County seeing moderate drought or abnormally dry conditions.
The update, released Thursday, estimates more than 617,000 South Carolinians live in drought-impacted areas.
Rainfall isn’t the only issue with drought. Water levels in lakes, rivers and streams can be a concern, too.
“Though streamflow levels have not dropped to levels associated with past major droughts, streamflow conditions in much of the state have been hovering between normal to below normal,” said state hydrologist Scott Harder.
So far local waters are holding steady. As of Thursday afternoon, Lake Wylie is one inch below target level according to Duke, the company managing Catawba River lakes. Other lakes on the system are at or near their targets, too. Check lake levels at duke-energy.com/lakes/levels.asp.
North Carolina and South Carolina aren’t far apart. More than a dozen North Carolina counties are in drought stages. Gaston County is listed at ncdrought.org/ as abnormally dry, the first of five levels in the U.S. Drought Monitor system, as well as a portion of Mecklenburg County.
It’s been an up and down year for rainfall. Nationally, mid-March brought an almost six-year low in land area facing drought. By early August, that coverage area had almost doubled.
John Marks: 803-831-8166