Gov. Mike Easley recommends that the cities hit hardest by the drought take several measures to help themselves, including charging rates that increase with water use.
Easley spoke Monday in Greensboro to representatives of more than two dozen water systems.
He also suggested that those cities connect to nearby water systems and hunt down leaks.
The state also plans to send in its own water experts to audit vulnerable cities to make sure excessive water isn't being lost through leaks.
Easley also said individual decisions to conserve are also important.