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North Carolina Collectively Cuts Water Consumption By a Third

Last week, the data-aggregating site Swivel (which we’ve discussed before) posted a chart showing the recent and dramatic drop in North Carolina’s water demand. The reduction occurred after Governor Mike Easley, in the face of a state-wide drought, issued a plea to North Carolina residents in mid-October, asking them to cut their water consumption in half by Halloween. He then asked public water systems to record the amount of water used daily in their regions, and compare them to average use for the same periods in August. On November 8, Easley announced the results of the experiment in a press release, which stated that:

…water utilities representing 72 percent of the 6.8 million customers served by public water systems responded to his call to provide information on water use. Early indications, based on an analysis of information from the 25 largest systems in the state, show an average drop in daily water use of nearly 30 percent from the month of August compared to the last week of October.

It’s true that the data may have been skewed somewhat by timing; the demand for water during hot North Carolina summers may automatically drop off as the weather cools and residents close their swimming pools, etc. Still, some regions saw dramatic declines, including Union County, which reported a nearly 48 percent decrease in water use between August and late October. For a state with a population of almost nine million, these results are impressive enough to warrant attention, and could be an indicator of an even more impressive trend: that people are willing, under the right circumstances, to act decisively and make sacrifices on behalf of the public good.