Rainfall Increases, Drought Remains

Duke still using fewer gallons of water compared to 2007 record drought

This map from the U.S. Drought Monitor shows central North Carolina in a
This map from the U.S. Drought Monitor shows central North Carolina in a "moderate" drought.


Despite just over two inches of rain since July 1, hot temperatures are keeping Duke and Durham dry.

Durham has seen 23 days at 90 degrees or above since June 1, including seven 90 or above days from in the first 10 days of July. Even though some rain showers are expected this week, Durham has still received about six inches below its historical normal levels of precipitation since January 1. The National Weather Service currently lists the area as being in a "moderate" drought.

"Right now there's no guidance to suggest that we would be above or below any historical norms for the month of July," said Kathleen Carroll, a meteorologist with Raleigh's branch of the National Weather Service. "We've had a large amount of rain over the area's reservoirs, which is definitely a good thing."

Temperatures this week are expected to range from the high 80s to as high as 101 degrees Tuesday.

Carroll said that although the county is in drought status, Durham's reservoirs are in good shape, especially with increased rainfall in the past week. The city's two reservoirs currently have 224 days worth of water, assuming current demand remains the same, and there is no more rain.

Even with recent precipitation, Duke continues to work to conserve water. In the 2011 fiscal year, Duke has used about 165 million fewer gallons of potable water when compared to the 2007 fiscal year, when Durham saw its worst drought in history. Duke's West Campus Chiller Plant #2 has been a big reason for that, circulating about 40 million gallons of water from sources like rainfall. The plant uses that water to cool campus buildings, laboratories and hospital areas.

"As a large institution, Duke has a responsibility to our surrounding community to do our part to conserve water," said Casey Roe, outreach coordinator for Sustainable Duke. "Students and employees at Duke can help save water through easy everyday actions, such as reporting leaks, turning off the faucet while washing hands and using a reusable water bottle."