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The Daily Tar Heel

Drought Unaffected By Rain

Water emergency will remain in place

OWASA Executive Director Ed Kerwin said that although the totals for the weekend would not be final until today when the next measurements will be taken, he was fairly certain this weekend's rain wouldn't have much effect.

"As of (midday Sunday), we received only 1.3 inches," he said. "Every little bit is welcome. It'll keep things green, but it won't move the mark much."

Kerwin said there was no hope the water emergency in place for the OWASA service area would be repealed as a result of the recent precipitation.

"The earth needs it for sure, but will it affect our status? No," he said. "We'd need over 10 inches to even talk about it."

Officials at Cane Creek reservoir said the total there had increased only one-fourth of an inch by Sunday.

The reservoir is more than 16 feet under capacity, which it has not reached since June 2001.

University Lake unofficially reported having risen 2 inches since Saturday and updated measurements would not be taken until today.

The lake is about 5 feet below its capacity.

Officials say there is no way to tell how much the water level in the reservoirs will be affected from the amount of precipitation accumulated in a particular time period, as it is dependent on a number of factors, including ground type and wetness, as well as the period of time in which the rain falls.

The OWASA board of directors met Thursday to discuss requesting changes and clarifications in the water emergency ordinance adopted by Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Orange County earlier this year.

At a special meeting called Sept. 5, in which the board approved Kerwin's recommendation to move to a water emergency status, the board discussed the possibility of requesting the changes to the standing ordinance.

Following extensive debate, the board decided to table the issue until it could be addressed this week, as the changes were not pressing enough to delay the water emergency declaration.

Kerwin said despite extensive discussion, the board made no decisions and did not request to address the issue again.

"Maybe it will come up sometime later, but nothing will change for now," he said.

Any changes to the water emergency guidelines could not be implemented directly by OWASA; they must be approved by the three local governments operating in its service area.

The City Editor can be reached


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