GASTON COUNTY, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — An estimated 5.6 million North Carolinians are living in drought conditions. Officials are asking residents to conserve water so it doesn’t run out. This season has been drier than usual.

The last measurable rain in the area was .75 of an inch on October 14.

The Catawba-Wateree drought management advisory group is encouraging voluntary water conservation by all water users which means residents should water lawns and wash cars sparingly while eliminating any unnecessary water use.

“I’ve never seen that water so low. We need some rain,” 91-year-old Navy Veteran Robert Kelly said on his walk overlooking the Catawba River. “I gauge it by the stumps they’re sticking out of the water.”

The fall season has been drier and warmer than usual. Since September 1, there has been 1.8 inches of rainfall. The area is normally at 7.5 inches for this time of year. 

“That’s a concern. It is. I don’t know climate change. What’s happening? It is a concern,” Delores O’Reilly, Gaston County Resident said.

O’Reilly says she has been practicing saving water when she can. 

“I don’t water my grass. We’re waiting for good rain. We want to put on the fertilizer, but other than that I’m conservative,” O’Reilly said. 

Officials say collective water conservation will benefit the overall water supply in the Catawba-Wateree River basin.

Residents are keeping their eyes on the skies hoping and praying to see improvements.

“It’s never been this low. I don’t know if it ever will be this low again,” Robert Kelly said.

The drought conditions will be updated on Thursday.