July 11, 2008

No Change in Water Regulations, Officials Say

By Matt Garfield / [email protected]

Area utility officials agreed Thursday to hold off on heightened water restrictions, though they gave the idea some serious thought during a conference call.

A few days of stormy weather have brought much-needed relief, allowing watering rules to remain unchanged for at least another three weeks, officials said.

"If we had not had any rain at all, it was a possibility that we could've eliminated watering on the weekends," said Nick Stegall, public services administrator for the city of Rock Hill. "The last few days of rain gave us a little more cushion and gave us longer to make a decision."

A regional drought management team will convene again July 31 to take another look at water levels.

New findings released Thursday found there are still exceptional drought conditions - the most severe category - centered near Greenville. Some areas reported slight improvements, but conditions stayed mostly the same despite some recent rainfall, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported.

The good news is that more rain is expected next week.

"We do have rain in the forecast for much of the immediate future," said meteorologist John Tomko with the National Weather Service. "Even if we do make some progress, it's not expected to be a lot. We'd need something locked up over the area like a tropical system. It's not looking real promising."

An early season heat wave and a lack of rain in June had worsened drought conditions that have gripped the Southeast for much of the past year. The Drought Monitor report assesses conditions up through Tuesday morning and does not include additional rain that has fallen in the past few days.

Matt Garfield 329-4063 The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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