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It appears more stringent water-use restrictions can be delayed here with at least normal rainfall over the next few weeks.
But with any less rain in that period, the county can expect to enter Stage 4 restrictions between mid-January and early February, officials say.
Stage 4 restrictions would require residential and commercial users to reduce consumption by 30 percent.
The Lancaster County Water and Sewer District and the city of Lancaster imposed Stage 3 water-use restrictions in October. The restrictions have banned all non-necessary water usage from public water sources, such as lawn watering and car washing.
Lancaster County Water and Sewer District Manager Mark Knight said Monday that the county is behind 19 inches of rain for the year.
Slower evaporation rates and sporadic large amounts of rain in the past month have delayed Stage 4 restrictions, Knight said. A few weeks ago, officials were expecting such restrictions by the middle to the end of this month.
Knight asks residents to remind relatives and friends visiting the area over the holidays of the local restrictions.
"We continue to ask folks to be conscientious of water use in every area of their homes," Knight said. "Every little bit helps."
The below-normal precipitation in the Catawba-Wateree River Basin is attributed to a La Nina winter forecast, according to a Duke Energy press release.
La Nina is an ocean-atmosphere phenomenon. With lower sea-surface temperatures, the resulting atmospheric effect is thought to cause a dry season.
El Nino, on the other hand, with higher temperatures, causes wetter seasons.
The drought is affecting the 225-mile Catawba-Wateree River basin in North and South Carolina.
Lancaster County water utilities draw all of their water from the Catawba River.
Save for massive amounts of rain, restrictions of some type will likely be in effect here into next summer, Knight said.
"Hopefully with regular rain, it will only be Stage 1 or 2," Knight said.
Contact Johnathan Ryan