The Drought’s Impact on Our Rivers, Part I

The largest tributary of the Tar River, Fishing Creek has no major towns of any size until it passes near Enfield, North Carolina. Last week, there was a record with Fishing Creek and it was not about the weight of a fish caught.

The USGS reported that the minimum daily streamflow measured there in August 2007 was 6 cfs or about 2 times lower than the previous minimum. The previous minimum flow was 13 cfs in 1980. It was important to note that the USGS has measured streamflow continuously at Fishing Creek since 1923.

This is interesting for me as I depend on historical water data in much of my work. Since no one can accurately predict the future, when engineers are determining how much water can be safely withdrawn from a river or lake, one tool is to review historical data. I have heard what we do as engineers described as a “captain piloting a boat by the wake”. I like that quote.

Tomorrow, I’ll blog about some of the other notable low flow records from this drought on the our rivers and lakes. I am out of juice this morning. Who the heck schedules a college football game on Monday night? It was not a pretty game, but atleast Clemson won.