North Carolina’s Triangle — Durham, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh — counts as the state’s economic, educational, and political engine. It’s also very quickly running out of water, parched by a severe drought.

Are the area’s leaders doing anything constructive to respond to the situation? So far, the signs aren’t encouraging. I’ve been following the story in the excellent daily Raleigh News & Observer. On Monday, the N&O reported that Raleigh has exactly one agreement with another local entity to buy water in case of an emergency.

The agreement is with Durham — and there’s a problem:

Durham’s is perhaps the one Triangle water system with less water than Raleigh’s, and it couldn’t sell water to the Capital City even if the pipes were in place to do so.

Oh yeah, the pipes necessary to transfer water from Durham to Raleigh don’t exist. That makes two problems.

Meanwhile, the Raleigh City Council rejected a moratorium on new homes within the parched city. Harvey Schmitt, president of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, opposed the ban with the zeal of President Bush defending his misadventure in Iraq.

“Growth is not the problem,” he declared. “The drought is the problem. We need to stay the course.”

Right. Maybe he can get President Bush to invade and occupy the drought?

Meanwhile, the city is on the verge of entering what’s known as Stage 3 water restrictions. Building on “Stage 2” bans on lawn watering and the like, Stage 3 would require restaurants to use disposable dishes and use only bottled water. Brilliant. One word — plastics!