Water Sense
   North   Carolina  Water Fact  Shee
                Benefiting from a humid climate and substantial
                underground water resources, North Carolina has
                historically been considered a water-rich state. In
        recent years, however, the state has faced water short-
        ages due to a combination of rapid population growth,
        drought, and aquifer degradation. Experts predict that if
        present growth and water use trends continue, North Carolinians will find it
        increasingly difficult to satisfy their water needs in the coming decades.
        North Carolina is one of the fastest-growing
        states in the nation, experiencing population
        growth of nearly 17 percent between 2000 and
        2009. This growth shows no sign of slowing, and
        research indicates that by 2030 more than 12.2
        million people will call North Carolina home.
        North Carolina's population boom will not only
        increase demand for water, but will also result in
        new developments in currently undeveloped
        forest and wetland areas—environments crucial
        to ensuring the quantity and quality of the
        state's water supply.

        Record-Setting Drought
        North Carolina made national headlines in 2007
        when all of the state's 100 counties experienced
        moderate to exceptional drought conditions. This
        historic drought—the worst in state history—not
        only cost hundreds of millions of dollars but also
        caused concern about the future of the state's
        water supply.
                              Though rains in 2008 helped ease the drought
                              in some parts of the state, continued water
                              shortages compelled Governor Mike Easley to
                              sign legislation granting him and future gover-
                              nors greater authority to restrict water use dur-
                              ing future droughts. North Carolina's water
                              troubles are not over yet—many reservoirs are
                              still at low levels and may not reach full capacity
                              anytime soon.

                              Threats to Freshwater Resources
                              The ground water of the Coastal Plain aquifers is
                              important to coastal North Carolinians, supply-
                              ing the needs of more than half of the state's
                              population. Today, unsustainable pumping rates
                              threaten these aquifers. Historical records dating
                              back to the early 1900s show that the aquifers'
                              water levels have steadily dropped due to exces-
                              sive pumping. As a result, nearby underground
                              salt water can seep in to fill the voids—a process
                              known as saltwater intrusion—making the
July 2010
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aquifers'water unusable unless it is treated by a
costly desalinization process.
Lacking access to the Coastal Plain aquifers,
residents in the central Piedmont and western
Appalachian Mountain regions of the state
require significant amounts of surface water to
meet their needs. Like aquifers, surface water
sources such as lakes and reservoirs are natu-
rally replenished by rain—the lack of which
has failed to meet this need. An extended
drought between 1998 and 2000 caused river,
reservoir, and ground water levels to drop to
historic lows and became known as the worst
long-term drought in the past 100 years, a
record that has since been broken by the
drought in 2007.

Ensuring an Abundant Future
While North Carolina can extract some addition-
al water from existing underground and surface
supplies, these potential capacity increases
alone will not address the water needs of the
state's rapidly growing population. As such,
improving water efficiency is becoming an
important strategy for North Carolinians, and
the state's universities and public institutions
are helping lead the way.
Duke University, the largest water consumer in
Durham County, plans to save an estimated
2 million gallons per year simply by installing
waterless urinals in its new buildings.The
University of North Carolina and North
Carolina State University have used their ath-
letic rivalry to fuel a water-use reduction com-
petition, resulting in both water savings and
heightened public awareness  of water supply
issues. Even the North Carolina Zoo helped to
save water by installing a "smart" landscape
irrigation system that in its first season of oper-
ation used less than 50 percent of the water
used by the previous system.
While universities and other public institutions
are making impressive advances in saving water,
the future of North Carolina's water ultimately
lies in the hands of its citizens. The foundation
for water efficiency in the state has already been
laid with the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency's (EPA's) WaterSense® labeled new
  Changing Climate,

  Turning Tides

  In the long run, climate change is expected to
  raise North Carolina s temperature and rainfall
  levels. While this potential for increased rainfall
  may sound like good news, these changing
  weather patterns might not actually provide an
  overall benefit to the state. If future rainfall
  arrives in more forceful and frequent tor-
  rents—a scenario proposed by best-case cli-
  mate models—the additional rain will tend to
  rush downstream toward the ocean before it
  can be captured by reservoirs or recharge
  groundwater supplies. Furthermore, the rising
  sea levels expected in future climate models
  will put the states Coastal Plain aquifers at
  increased risk of saltwater intrusion as the
  ocean gradually moves inland.

homes, the first of which were built in North
Carolina under a pilot program. A WaterSense
labeled new home not only saves about 10,000
gallons of water annually, but also reduces ener-
gy used and saves the homeowner money on
utility bills.
In existing homes, residents can save by retro-
fitting with WaterSense labeled products. If
every North Carolinian household replaced its
inefficient showerheads with WaterSense
labeled models, for example, that would save
about 21 million gallons of water every day.
That's more than enough water to meet the
daily needs of two-thirds of the households in
Raleigh, the state capital.
To learn more about WaterSense labeled prod-
ucts and new homes or find water-efficiency
tips, visit www.epa.gov/watersense.