Duke senior Kristin Butler’s weekly Chronicle columns have earned her an appreciative and growing readership.
Butler writes today about drinking at Duke and in Durham. Here are excerpts from her column, followed by my commentary.
At present, Durham has just 65 days of water left in municipal reservoirs. Given that forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are predicting a La Nina year with "abnormally dry" conditions (read: no rain) through February, our community could be in for a very unpleasant-not to mention thirsty-winter.There’s a lot more to Butler’s column. You can read it all here.
Of course, there is a "Level IV" drought blanketing much of the Southeast this fall. Nevertheless, Durham's situation remains exceptional in several regards.
With just 65 days of water, we are in even worse shape than other large cities in the region-including Raleigh, which has 107 days left, and metro Atlanta, where officials are counting on 75 more days. . . .
This is the second time we've had a severe drought in three years (and the third time we've been on water restrictions since 2002), yet officials have largely relied on what Duke psychology professor Mark Leary called "eagerness to please... and strong need for social acceptance" to curb residential usage through summer and early fall.
Gov. Mike Easley is now calling on residents to view a "bit of mud on the car or patches of brown on the lawns" as a "badge of honor" and to eliminate water use not "essential to public health and safety."
But no one, Easley included, wants to support the "draconian" measures required to enforce those suggestions.
That's why, given the acute shortage we face right now, it's particularly disheartening to hear people like Durham Deputy Water Management Director Vicki Westbrook insist "we don't want to use scare tactics to force [conservation]."
On the contrary, a healthy dose of fear is just what this region needs. When officials publicly begged residents to voluntarily reduce water usage by 30 percent last month, consumption fell by only 16 percent.
That disappointing response has hastened the introduction of tougher regulations, but it also calls into question whether Durham residents really understand the gravity of our situation.
Here are a few easy water-saving tips more people ignore - - -
Before brushing your teeth, fill a plastic glass with water and shut the water off while you're brushing. Rinse your mouth using the water in the cup.
You can easily cook many vegetables in the microwave with just an ounce or two of water. Chop carrots, place in a microwave-safe glass dish, add a bit of water, season as you like, cover and cook.
Microwaves don’t all heat with the same temperature, so check the cooking as you go along.
What are your water-saving ideas?