Opinion

Drought grows worse

In case you hadn't noticed, we haven't had much rain lately, and the drought has continued to sap local water supplies. As of Monday, lawn watering will be allowed only once a week after Rock Hill and much of York County adopted the new Stage 3 drought plan.

The situation is the same for much of the Upstate, the Midlands and much of North Carolina. Drought conditions in all of South Carolina except Beaufort and Jasper counties are classified as severe. Columbia experienced its driest July through September in the past 60 years.

As of Tuesday, Rock Hill was nearly 18 inches below average rainfall for the year to date. For the first 10 days of October, the city has received 0.13 inches of rain. And a look at the weather prediction for the week offers little relief in sight.

By now, residents are familiar with watering restrictions. Basically, the Stage 3 plan simply eliminates one day of watering. Hand watering is allowed, but car-washing, pressure-washing and water runoffs still are banned. Residents can wash their cars at public car washes that recycle water.

Many lawns have turned brown already, but many would have done so anyway as fall approaches. Many residents have nursed prized plants through the drought, but few are thinking about doing much new planting in the fall or re-seeding lawns until more rain can be assured.

While this drought is a trial, it also may be an opportunity. We could start thinking out of the box a bit.

For example, why not talk to nursery personnel or gardening friends about flowers, shrubs, trees and grasses that are more drought resistant? Which plants, especially native varieties, can get by with less water and tender loving care?

Drought may not be a perennial problem. It will rain again someday. But drought always will be a threat, one that is amplified by the unknown effects global warming will have on local weather conditions.

Incorporating hardy local plants in our landscaping plans might spare us the pain of watching our yards wither and could save us considerable money over the long haul.

Meanwhile, pray for rain.

IN SUMMARY

Gardeners should consider installing more drought-resistant plants in their yards.

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