If the fall weather has you thinking the drought in North Carolina has run its course, think again. Here in the Triangle, we are now officially approaching what any sane person would call "dire straits." The NC Conservation Network has a good report out today:

North Carolina is in the midst of a serious drought with over 56.6% of the state classified as exceptional drought—the worst level there is. Making small changes in your daily water consumption can help but there are other things our state can be doing to better prepare for water shortages. We are urging state leaders to:

1. Set statewide water use efficiency standards,
2. Require local governments to consider water availability before approving new development; and
3. Replace our outdated water rules with a comprehensive law that meets the state’s current needs.

In addition, the Network offers this friendly advice, just in case you need a reminder:

1. Get a rain barrel: You'll be amazed how fast a 60 gallon rain barrel fills up. Use it for your lawn, garden, and all of your outside watering needs.

2. Fix leaky faucets: A dripping faucet can waste 3,600 galls of water a year! Replace old gaskets and install faucet aerators to cut down on water use.

3. Take shorter showers: Showers use 5 to 8 gallons of water per minute. Cutting your shower time by 2 minutes means at least 3,000 gallons over water saving over a year.

4. Use the dishwasher wisely: Always run a full load of dishes in the dishwasher and scrape plates instead of rinsing before putting them in to wash.

5. Check your toilet: The top water consumer in a typical home is the toilet. Check for leaks by dropping food coloring in the upper tank. If color appears in the bowl, you have a leak. You can also install a water filled plastic bottle in your tank to reduce water use.

The N&O also has a "down-date" on the level of Falls Lake:

RALEIGH - The drought gripping North Carolina has pushed Falls Lake, the source of drinking water for Raleigh and several surrounding towns, to record low levels. The Army Corps of Engineers, which maintains Falls Lake, reports that the lake's elevation dipped to 242.62 feet today, or .16 feet below the previous low on Nov. 27, 1993, according to Raleigh officials. The water supply storage pool in the lake is at 31 percent of capacity, city officials report, which is about a 110-day supply, assuming current demand and no rain.

Photo from the N&O story.


Thanks, A.

This issue has gone very nearly out of the teevee news. It's not so hot and the grass isn't quite as crunchy as it was in September and Raleigh things the Little River resevoir will be it's future savior. You're right ... it would be very easy for us to forget about this ecological 2x4 that Mother Nature has chose as her wake up call.

I gotta get me some of those rain barrels. My tiny little house really does look like a hovel without the herbs, azaleas, morning glories, snap dragons and geraniums green and/or blooming. I did learn something this year: jalepenos and rosemary don't mind drought. Mine jalepenos are still alive and producing and the rosemary threatens to take over the entire city ... starting with my back yard. Crazy.

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

timely and critical

Anglico, thanks for front-paging this timely and critical topic.

Unfortunately, the odds are high that this historic drought is not a passing event. More likely, it's a precursor of effects to come from climate change. Climatological models strongly suggest that much of our region will become drier as a result of global warming.

Add that to the projected 50% population boom in our state during the first 30 years of this century, and you're looking at real trouble.

In our state, water used to be the resource we thought we'd never exhaust. No longer. We have to begin immediately to plan better for our children's sake. Our drinking water supply, wildlife, and our economy all depend on wise use of this limited resource.

I was at the National League of Cities annual conference in New Orleans last week. I serve as one of North Carolina's representatives to the NLC's Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Policy & Advocacy Committee.

I was very pleased that the NLC EENR Committee agreed to my request to take up regional drought and the climate change connection as a key topic for study and work over the coming year.

Naturally, we need to follow up on that principle right here in North Carolina as well.

Dan Besse
Democrat for Lieutenant Governor

Dan Besse

Thanks Dan

I was weighing in with the connection to climate change when you posted. In light of that, where do you stand on the Cliffside project? Coal fired plants are emitting 40% of the CO2 into the atmosphere...
Are you willing to call for a moratorium on coal fired plants that don't capture CO2?

(CCS (carbon capture & storage) technology is 10-15 years off at best, and we don't have that time to wait).

Hold that thought...

I know Dan's at a "Talk of the Town" meeting with constituents until around 9:00pm, but that he'll respond when that's wrapped up!

Will do, thanks

I'd like to ask all the candidates running where they stand on the Cliffside, and I'll try to catch them as they show up here.

Emphasize efficiency and renewables


Good question.

The Cliffside expansion itself is being considered prematurely. I am among the advocates for a systematic statewide study of our future electric generating needs and the most efficient way to meet those needs, before more new plant certificates are issued by the Utilities Commission. This was put forward as a legislative proposal last year, recommended by the state Democratic Party's Study Commission on the Environment (which I chaired).

Unfortunately, that moderate and systematic approach was not accepted by the General Assembly, because it was vigorously opposed by the utilities lobby. It was clear that Duke Energy in particular wanted to force a rush to judgment on the Cliffside expansion and its proposed new nuclear plant in South Carolina.

However, the state Utilities Commission made what for that body was a fairly bold move in rejecting Duke's request for accelerated review of two new Cliffside units, saying that Duke could move forward at this point with a proposal for only one new unit. That request is the proposal under debate before that body now.

I still believe that the best approach would be to mandate that the Cliffside decision be made in the context of a comprehensive state energy needs study. I want to see this discussion reframed from one over whether to approve this or that new plant, to a more strategic review of how to best meet our state's future energy needs.

First and foremost, we need to do all that we can to improve energy efficiency and development of clean, renewable energy resources. In order to more objectively judge the full potential of those approaches, we need a comprehensive study, ordered by the state legislature, on the extent of that potential. That study should include consideration of the level of projected energy needs for the state as well. Then, we can look at what kinds of additional central generation is needed, and how much, and make power plant certificate decisions in that full context.

New coal may be a part of that, with the best achievable environmental safeguards (including carbon capture), but until we have the comprehensive energy needs study done, it is premature to decide.

The legislature can set an appropriate deadline for the study results, and direct that the Utilities Commission act on individual plant petitions in accordance with the study's findings.

Dan Besse
Democrat for Lieutenant Governor

Dan Besse


I'm really impressed with your answer, it's exactly the approach we need in our state leadership.
I'm sure you know that the REPS Study presented to the Utilities Commission in 2006
found we could avoid new coal / nuclear fired plants by relying on conservation and renewable energy sources. Investment in these options could really lead the way for energy independence and new green industries and jobs for NC. We need forward thinking leaders who can recognize this and act accordingly.

This issue is critical for me, and will be a determining factor in my vote for Lt Gov, and I plan to ask the other candidates to weigh in as well, but you've certainly gotten my attention with your response.

Don't take this the wrong way, but

who do you think will end up influencing this study the most?

New coal may be a part of that, with the best achievable environmental safeguards (including carbon capture), but until we have the comprehensive energy needs study done, it is premature to decide.

Whatever faith I had in the GA and the NCUC to make the right decisions on this subject has evaporated this year. As far as I'm concerned, the REPS that was passed this year was a waste of time, and possibly in itself counterproductive, as it gives the illusion of change.

Instead of investing in renewable energy sources, Duke Energy is giving close to $2,000,000,000.00 of ratepayers' money to the Shaw Group to build a water-guzzling and poison-producing nightmare. This is one of the elite group of Iraq/Katrina contractors that has written the book on how to profit from cost overruns, in case anyone wants to know.

The utilities don't want to build renewables, because they're much smaller in scope than these big facilites, meaning less opportunity for profits on construction.

That request is the proposal under debate before that body now.

Not anymore. The license has been issued. The only thing holding up groundbreaking is an air quality permit. And whoever issues that should be tarred, feathered, rode out of town on a rail and have their underwear pulled up in an atomic wedgie.

There is only one answer to the coal question—no.

agree 100%

The really crazy thing is that the REPS, Senate bill S3, passed this year, started out as a renewables bill, and ended up being hijacked by the energy companies. It now includes a provision that allows energy companies to charge CWIP (construction work in progress) to rate payers before the new plant goes online, meaning that we could be charged for the constructon of a plant that never produces any electricity. Crazy!
It also gives banks an incentive to finance new plants, which was questionable prior to passage of this bill, because everyone knows that federal legislation will eventually make it difficult if not impossible to build new coal fired plants that don't capture carbon.
Under S3, there's more incentive for Duke & Progress to build new coal & nuclear plants than invest in renewables and conservation programs; how's that for a flip-flop?

We haven't even discussed the issue of mountain top removal, a disgusting practice that is destroying Appalachia.

A fair and comprehensive study of NC's energy future would certainly recognize that coal should have no part in our energy future, the question is whether or not special interests would be able to railroad the process as they did with S3.

dual flush toilets

As part of our renovation, we are putting in at least one toilet that has two buttons to flush for low or high volume of waste. We don't need a rain barrel just now as the yard is excavated with a couple of hills of dirt and mulch, or as my son calls them, his "mountains". We also got a front loading washer last year and that is more efficient, too.

Our 8 year old always volunteers to save water by not showering or bathing but we draw the line at that!

We have a well and had to drill deeper a few years ago. Any deeper and we will tap into the Yangtze River, and then we will really be in trouble!

look at the big picture here

Increasing drought, and paradoxically increased flooding, are consequences of global warming. Melting glaciers, rising sea levels, species loss of up to 50%, increasing heatwaves, erratic weather patterns, food shortages, water shortages, this is what we are facing, and the severity of these consequences is dependent on our action over the next few years. We have to stop burning fossil fuels that are pouring greenhouse gases into our atmosphere, it's a global imperative.

While no single weather event can be pegged to global warming, look at the trends. The worldwide trends indicate that we're aready beginning to feel the effects of climate change. The Pentagon's assesment predicts food & water shortages, increasing migration, and war, as resources become scarce (this from a research scientist who studies the atmosphere).

Climate report turns up heat
U.N. issues stark vision of increasingly hot world
Associated Press

VALENCIA, Spain --Global warming is "unequivocal" and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere commits the world to sea levels rising dramatically, the world's top climate experts warned Saturday in their most authoritative report to date.

"Only urgent, global action will do," said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, calling on the United States and China -- the world's two biggest polluters -- to do more to slow global climate change.


water needed to fill Lake Norman

I did a talk at the Mecklenburg Senior Dems meeting a couple of weeks ago and did a quick calculation (engineer geek showing ugly head) and Lake Norman would need 387,700,560 cubic yards of water to get back to full pond

"jump in where you can and hang on"
Briscoe Darling to Sheriff Andy

I love my 2 rain barrels that I bought a month

or so ago through New England Rain Barrels www.nerainbarrel.com

They shipped a truckload to local church points and sold them at a discounted price of $70.00@ vs $89.00 reg price. They will be doing this again in March and I'm getting 2 more then. They filled up with the first little sprinkle we had after 2 solid months with no rain.

Have you called to support H. Res 333 Impeach Cheney Today? call 202-224-3121 & ask for your Congress member by name

Rain Barrels at cost

The Mecklenburg Soil and Water Conservation District sells them at cost, our next sale is Jan. 25th in conjunction with our tree seedling sale. The hardwoods are $1-$2 a piece and pines are 10 for $5. We will even reimburse 75% of the cost of the barrel if you live in one of four watersheds in our county. Read more at: www.mecklenburgconservation.com.

You don't have to be a resident to take advantage of this sale.

"jump in where you can and hang on"
Briscoe Darling to Sheriff Andy

There is also a local company in Waxhaw

That manufactures/distributes rain barrels. I'll do my best to buy local unless buying through Meck is loads cheaper. I need quite a few.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Rain Barrel USA

That is the company in Waxhaw, we get our barrels from them.

"jump in where you can and hang on"
Briscoe Darling to Sheriff Andy

We can take care of it

Come on over in Jan. and we will set you up. Make sure you pre order so we will have enough.

Just checked with a big orange hardware store that will remain nameless and the ones they are selling are about twice what we sell them for.

"jump in where you can and hang on"
Briscoe Darling to Sheriff Andy


Letting the Governor, the Air Quality Commission and Duke Energy know that you believe that stopping Cliffiside Coal Plant will do quite a bit to stop carbon emissions.

More than buying a rain barrel. And don't get me wrong, I am trying to buy a rain barrel. I replaced a terrible toilet with a TOTO low water usage toilet and it is shocking, with one third the water, everything gets flushed in one flush. Where we use to always have to flush three times. with all those gallons. Toilets can be very bad wasters of water.

but the big utilities and industries can do so much more to reduce carbon emissions.

Our calls last week had a good outcome. The air Quality guys said, hmm lets slow down and think about mercury. Activism works sometimes. We will see what they decide about mercury emissions. The Air Quality Commission is not authorized, YET, to control carbon emissions. Not for a few more months, and by then this Cliffside Coal Plant could be approved. The race to stop it is on.


Yes, keep the pressure up

Here's the story you refer to:

Charlotte Observer
Posted on Monday, Nov. 19, 2007

Pressure prompts review of Duke plant


N.C. regulators, responding to public opposition, say they will re-evaluate how much toxic mercury a proposed Duke Energy power plant expansion may waft Charlotte's way. Duke needs only an air permit before beginning work on a $1.8 billion addition to its Cliffside plant in Rutherford County. The N.C. Division of Air Quality had agreed with Duke that an analysis of "best available" mercury controls wasn't needed because the plant's design meets federal standards


Take action:

Tell Mr. Rogers and Governor Easley No More Coal in NC!

Duke Energy is continuing their efforts to expand its Cliffside coal plant in Rutherford County, North Carolina. The NC Utilities Commission has given them a permit for one 800 megawatt pulverized coal generator. This facility will emit millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the air annually, along with adding mercury and other deadly pollutants into the atmosphere.


Contact the NC Governor's Office:

Phone: 1-800-662-7952 (NC only)
919-733-4240 or 919-733-5811
919-715-3175 or 919-733-2120

Email: governor.office@ncmail.net

Contact Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers:

Phone: 704-382-1087

Email: contactus@duke-energy.com

Contact the Dept of Air Quality too

The DAQ can be contacted here regarding Cliffside, keep those comments coming:

Donald van der Vaart, Ph.D., P.E.
Chief, Air Permits Section
Division of Air Quality, NCDENR
1641 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1641
Attention: Permits Section

Falcon Water-free urinals.

They save 40,000 gallons of water a year, each. Every state building in North Carolina shoudl be required to switch to these by the end of 2008. Here in Orange County, there are probably 100 state-owned buildings with about 6 urinals each (my building has 18 alone). That means at least 600 urinals, which would be 24,000,000 gallons of water each year. I have trouble believing that number, so if anyone wants to check my math/thoughts I would dappreciate it.
One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

water usage.

This was in reference to a plan for non-potable water reclamation.

According to OWASA's Web site, this reclaimed-water system will lower the University's use of potable water by 530,000 gallons per day, which is 6 percent of the total water usage in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area.

So, a conservative estimate would be that waterfree urinals would save 66,000 gallons of water a day, or about .6 percent (rounding in my head).

One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

saying no to coal

I was called recently to do a customer survey for Piedmont Electric. At the end I had the chance to give them comments and I had the woman scribbling quickly as I told her that my family was installing solar but PE needed to focus on alternatives to coal plants. I think anyone in favor of more coal needs a nice trip to China where they can see - or I should say "see" for themselves - the pollution there looks like a foggy Carolina morning but in places with no humidity. Really awful. And they STILL manage to put solar water heater panels on many buildings(including my son's old orphanage!)

China & India

are often used by "skeptics" and those advocating non-action on this issue as an excuse. They claim that since China & India are building coal fired plants at record rates, then there's no reason for us to try and address the issue.
Of course China & India reply that they shouldn't have to stall their economic growth when the US emits more per capita of global warming pollution, and so on,,,,it's a nice circular blame game that will only get us into deeper trouble...

Bottom line is that the US must lead on this issue, only then can we credibly ask China & India, and other developing nations to get serious about capping carbon emissions. The world community must help developing nations address this disparity. It can be done, but it will require courageous and visionary leadership. Al Gore should be front & center in these negotiations. Let's hope we see this play out in the next "Kyoto" negotiations.

19 million gallons of water per day!

That's what Cliffside will evaporate from the Catawba if built...

Drought Turns Up Pressure on Duke

Utility is Catawba's Biggest User
From: The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.) | Date: 10/23/2007

Oct. 23--The Catawba River's biggest water user faces no withdrawal limits, answers to no local authority and allows 73 million gallons a day to vanish into thin air.

Duke Energy's five coal-fired and nuclear power plants gulp billions of gallons of water a day, drought or no drought. Most of it is returned to the river after cooling the steam that spins the plants' turbines.

But a lot of water evaporates as vapor after absorbing the steam's heat.

Duke's plants lose almost five times as much Catawba water as Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities, which returns most of the water it draws as treated effluent.

With the Carolinas enduring the second record-setting drought in five years, every drop of water used by a home or an industry faces heightened scrutiny.

As Duke prepares its first coal-plant expansion in more than 30 years, some critics -- and the power industry itself -- question whether there's a better way.

The 800-megawatt boiler Duke plans to add to its Cliffside plant, on the Broad River in Rutherford County, illustrates the choices, none of them perfect.

Cliffside challenges

Cliffside, including four 1940s-vintage boilers to be retired, pulls 280 million gallons a day from the Broad. The cool water condenses steam and goes back in the river.Two problems: Fish get sucked into the plant's river intakes. And the discharged water is 20 degrees warmer than before, which can hurt the ecosystem.

The solution, to be installed on the new boiler, is called a cooling tower. It works by circulating the hot water through material cooled by air. Cooling towers need much less river water. The expanded Cliffside plant will draw 88 percent less water from the Broad despite producing 80 percent more power.

But evaporation will double to 19 million gallons a day.

An impressive display of influence-wielding.

I tried to reply to Fredly's post earlier in the thread, but kept getting kicked off:

Under S3, there's more incentive for Duke & Progress to build new coal & nuclear plants than invest in renewables and conservation programs; how's that for a flip-flop?

Actually, the way this piece of tripe is written, the power companies can (and will) purchase renewable energy credits from another state/entity at whatever price the seller wants, which will then be passed along to us. It's actually brilliant, because the utilities will make money on the transaction, while also collecting data on the "exhorbitant" costs of renewable energy, that they can use at a later date to discredit these technologies. And they won't have to install a single wind turbine or Solar panel in the process.

We haven't even discussed the issue of mountain top removal, a disgusting practice that is destroying Appalachia.

Right. We protect our (NC) ridgetops from defacement, including refusing wind power, so our people get to feel like we're "conservationists", while our coal plants are driving the mountaintop removal in other states. Lovely.

A fair and comprehensive study of NC's energy future would certainly recognize that coal should have no part in our energy future, the question is whether or not special interests would be able to railroad the process as they did with S3.

Well, since the GA decided to defund the N.C. Energy Office, this study would have to be farmed out to someone, and I've got a real good idea who that would be.

right on!

I'm glad to see you've been paying attention too, unfortunately most people just don't have the time to really understand what's been going on. Just as Duke gets recognized for all their green talk, saying one thing but doing another, S3 gets hailed as some sort of progressive legislation.

I agree, the study would need to be farmed out to an independent body, and I believe the process should include transparency and an opportunity for the public to weigh in.

status of Cliffside, comments on S3 and proposed study

I stand corrected on my earlier reference to the status of the Cliffside license. Scharrison is right, the current hearings/comments are on the air quality permit. Sorry about my inadequate proofreading of my earlier comment.

The return of CWIP financing as a tack-on to S3 was a travesty. I argued long and hard against that provision while S3 was under debate this year. It effectively repealed an important limitation on CWIP financing which had been in effect since 1982. (I wrote the provision adopted in 1982, and it was inserted by a friendly legislator as a House floor amendment to fuel-clause legislation adopted that year. You can imagine the horror of certain utility lobbyists when that amendment passed.)

I also agree that the study on energy needs would ideally be delegated to an independent body and should include public comment opportunity.

Dan Besse
Democrat for Lieutenant Governor

Dan Besse


I'm glad you responded. You do seem to have a good grasp of the issue and are well aware of what's transpired. I am impressed...

Where the money should go.

Assuming we do need 800 more megawatts (debatable), and assuming my math is correct (even more debatable), how about this:

40,000 homes (or other structures) each with 20kw Photovoltaic systems would produce that much, without needing a drop of water or emitting any crap into the air.

That's one home out of every one hundred in this state, at about the same (total) cost as the new Cliffside plant. One out of a hundred.

If you factor a few thousand 125kw wind turbines into the equation, it drops the number of homes below 30,000.

The thing is, a vigorous program utilizing PV systems in this way would (hopefully) generate the kind of tipping point we need, motivating people to emulate their Solar-powered neighbors. That's the kind of dynamic that will bring about the change we desperately need.

Business as usual is killing us. If the General Assembly can't recognize that, then we need some fresh faces in Raleigh.

Thank you Dan! I would be interested to see your arguments

regarding S3. I've spent some time on the tubes looking, but was not able to find anything pertinent. I appreciate your continued commitment to the citizens of North Carolina.

North Carolina. Turning the South Blue!

North Carolina. Turning the South Blue!

comments on the energy legislation

Hey all, I'm back from Thanksgiving at the family homes in Marion (in-laws) and Hickory (parents) and see funlvn's inquiry now. If anyone's still following this thread, I've posted to a page on my website my comments on S3 while it was under consideration before the House Energy and Energy Efficiency Committee in July. The link should be http://www.danbesse2008.org/News/EnergyNews/tabid/165/Default.aspx. You read past the January news release on the renewable portfolio standard (an important good requirement contained in the bill) and you get to my July comments on the baseload financing provisions which were tacked on to the bill in the Senate. If for any reason the link above doesn't work, you can go to my site at www.danbesse2008.org, look to the left of the page, scroll down to "News" and click on "Energy News" to get to the same place.

And thanks to several of y'all for your positive comments. They help encourage us candidate/policy wonk types to keep going.

Dan Besse
Democrat for Lieutenant Governor

Dan Besse


I'd like to hear from the other candidates for Lt Governor, in fact, all the NC candidates on the issue of Cliffside and a moratorium on new coal fired plants. Dan Besse's earned my respect with his answers; he's been forthcoming and informed. Any one else courageous enough to weigh in here?

Dan is a great asset to NC's environmental picture.

I'd be delighted to have him in the Lt. Gov. office and up to bat for the coming storm. We have never had anyone as knowledgeable or devoted to the issue, not to my knowledge.

All the Lt. Gov. candidates are invited to a forum at the upcoming Progressive Dems meeting on Dec. 8th. Please anyone who has the ear of any of these folks, encourage them to be there. When will we get another chance to see that?

Have you called to support H. Res 333 Impeach Cheney Today? call 202-224-3121 & ask for your Congress member by name

That's good news!

I hope they all decide to make this gathering a priority, but I don't expect it from all of them.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi