Water Life


If you know me, you know my favorite activity is kayaking the waters around Durham. I’m always grateful to have access to such natural beauty, and feel a connection to the waterscape that provides us with drinking water and recreational activity.

As a weekly kayaker, I’ve been noticing that our water is slowly disappearing. About two months ago, I tried to paddle Penny’s Bend at the Eno River with a group of friends. I was so excited beforehand, but any hopes of a relaxing paddle were quickly dashed. There was barely any water. 

We were clomping through sand and over logs with our boats. We got a third of the way down the river, and could see there was not enough water and it would be another mile of boat dragging. So, we turned back. I had never seen the Eno River this low. I went home and found that we were listed as Abnormally Dry for our region by ncdrought.org. I was hoping Hurricane Irma would replenish our water, but there wasn’t much rain and it didn’t provide our area with very much water.


Over the years, we have relied far too often on hurricanes to fill our reservoirs up. We had a bad drought beginning in 2007 and ending in 2008 where we were encouraged to not flush the toilets, take five minute showers, and not to water our yards and gardens. It was a popular year for the purchase of water barrels and xeriscaping. To be honest, it was troubling. Friends tell stories of walking across Falls Lake during this time because it was dry and empty.

Falls Lake is my favorite spot to watch sunsets and see Full Moons. Over the last month, I’ve been watching the water dwindle in the lake. Last week, I saw rock formations in the lake that I never knew were there. The shoreline is widening and the water is shrinking. Last night, I read that our region had been moved into the classification of Moderate Drought. After a quick web search, I found one small article on the News and Observer discussing our drought status.


As a city that is experiencing exponential growth, water usage needs to be a larger part of the conversation -- we cannot continue to grow at this rate and not take water usage seriously. We as a city need to take measures to conserve and educate the public about the importance and implications of water usage. As a society, we must consider the relevance of keeping pristine lawns, washing cars and other superfluous activities.


We won’t grow sustainably as a city if we have no water, and besides, no drinking water is kind of a turn off. Who will want to live here then? 

So do the obvious and let it mellow if it's yellow. Here are some other tips Durham Co. has provided to get you on the track to reduce your water usage:

  • Run dishwashers and washing machines with full loads only.
  • Scrape your plates instead of rinsing before loading them into the dishwasher.
  • When washing dishes by hand, fill the sink with soap and water instead of running the tap. Fill another basin with clean water for rinsing.
  • Repair all leaks and drips. These drips add up to money down the drain. Did you know that a steady drip from a faucet can waste up to 30 gallons a day? That’s about $7 on your monthly bill!
  • Install low flow showerheads and faucet aerators (2.5 gallons per minute or lower).
  • Limit shower time to five minutes.
  • Add food wastes to your compost pile instead of using the garbage disposal.
  • Use a broom to clear debris from walkways and driveways instead of hosing them down with water.
  • Water your lawn only when it needs it, and only before 10:00 a.m. or after 6 p.m. One inch of water per week is sufficient to keep your lawn and plants healthy. Be sure to follow the odd/even watering schedule.

Post and Images by Kim Gray

View more photography work by Kim here.


Daria Drake