The drought stage of the Catawba River basin including Alexander County has gone up one step, a drought management panel said Monday in asking people to conserve water.
Above-average heat and generally dry weather put the river basin at Stage 1, the second of five steps in a water-saving priority plan. The basin runs from the North Carolina mountains to near Columbia.
The basin hasn’t been at that drought stage since December 2011.
Two of the three indicators that trigger drought stages have worsened as the region moves into the thick of the summer, said the Catawba-Wateree Drought Management Advisory Group.
The amount of water stored in the 11 Catawba reservoirs continues to drop. And streamflows that feed the lakes are well below normal.
The average temperature in June was 4.8 degrees above normal, and July is running nearly 3 degrees hotter than usual.
A second drought index, the U.S. Drought Monitor, places most of the basin in moderate drought. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts drought will persist or intensify in the Catawba basin through October.
The Catawba-Wateree drought panel, which represents municipal water users and Catawba manager Duke Energy, placed the basin at the first stage of drought earlier this month.
Temperatures will stay in the 90s this week, the weather service says, with a chance of thunderstorms.