Southeastern United States under strict water restrictions

by Tim Haas
NBC News

You've probably already heard about the drought affecting parts of the Southeast, but you may not know just how bad it is.

States are actually filing lawsuits against each other over the flow of their rivers.

And Monday, one southern governor actually mentioned rationing as an option if the rain doesn't fall soon.

In North Carolina, billboards beg residents to conserve water while the Governor says there will be dire consequences if they don't.

North Carolina Governor Mike Easley says "we could be without water, or water rationing in the Spring unless we take action."

In Georgia the lake that supplies water to metro Atlanta, as well as parts of Alabama and Florida is quickly drying up.

Lake Lanier resident Barkley Geib says "the water would be above my head."

Such is the new reality in several southern states this year, where rainfall amounts are at historic lows.

Most communities have already restricted outdoor watering but with a dry winter forecast, some say that may not be enough.

Michael Hayes of the Drought Mitigation Center says "we're extended beyond some of the worst case scenarios that these officials were able to identify and relate with."

In fact, authorities say their options as well as their lakes are drying up.

And unless the rain starts falling here soon, some communities may take the unprecedented step of restricting indoor water use.
Forecasters aren't offering much hope for the months ahead.

They say a La Nina weather system is forming in the eastern Pacific, which usually means a drier, warmer winter for the Southeast U.S.