Experts warn the Carolinas will face droughts and deluges in coming years.
Scientists, farmers and water managers met in Charlotte this week to explore ways to deal with coming dry weather and the sudden flooding that the experts say will become more common, The Charlotte Observer reported.
They cited the extensive flooding in South Carolina last October that was the worst weather disaster to hit the state since Hurricane Hugo in 1989.
They also point to the more than 2 feet of rain in three days that fell in Louisiana last month.
“In the long view, climate is going to be a very challenging problem for water resources. Too much, too little, wrong times,” said Susan White, executive director of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s Water Resources Research Institute.
She said in the short term, bursts of heavy rain are “going to cause a lot of problems, and that’s flooding. We’ve seen this in Charleston and in North Carolina on the coast.”
Duke Energy manages the Catawba and other Carolinas rivers that supply water to 2.5 million people and has noted increasingly sparse rainfall since the late 1990s. At the same time, rain often falls with more intensity, in a matter of hours instead of days.
Carolinas water utilities are increasingly working together on long-range water forecasts, conservation measures and drought response plans.
Evaporation takes an estimated 300 million gallons of water from Catawba reservoirs on a hot summer day. If local temperatures rise 3.2 degrees by 2065, as the plan estimates, water loss would go up an additional 33 million gallons daily.
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