State Moves North Georgia to Non-Drought Status!

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) has announced it will ease outdoor water use requirements in 86 counties, including several counties in upper North Georgia counties including Whitfield and Murray, but not in those north Georgia communities dependent on the Chattahoochee River and Lake Lanier for water supply.

According to Lori McDaniel of Dalton Utilities, “Whitfield and Murray have been moved to Non-Drought status which means many restrictions on what type of outdoor water use have been removed.  Please note that outdoor water use is still limited to after 4:00 p.m. and before 10:00 a.m. per the state’s drought management plan.”

“Winter rains have brought needed relief to much of the state, but Lake Lanier, the Chattahoochee River and smaller streams in the region have been slow to recover,” said EPD Director Richard Dunn.  “As a result, the Level 2 Drought Response will remain in place in the upper Chattahoochee River Basin, including most metropolitan Atlanta counties.”

Those 12 counties that will continue in Level 2 Drought Response are: Cobb, Coweta, Dekalb, Douglas, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Habersham, Hall, Lumpkin, Paulding and White counties.

“Lake Lanier is slow to refill, because it is a large reservoir fed by relatively small streams,” added EPD Director Dunn.  “In comparison, lakes West Point and Walter F. George downstream from Atlanta are smaller lakes located in larger drainage areas.”

During a Level 2 Drought Response, outdoor landscape watering is only allowed two days a week determined by odd and even-numbered addresses.  Even-numbered addresses and properties without numbered addresses may water on Wednesday and Saturday before 10:00 a.m. and after 4:00 p.m.  Odd-numbered addresses may water Thursday and Sunday before 10:00 a.m. and after 4:00 p.m.

Prohibited outdoor water uses under a Level 2 Drought Response include:

  • Washing hard surfaces such as streets and sidewalks.
  • Water for ornamental purposes, such as fountains.
  • The use of fire hydrants, except for firefighting and public safety.
  • Non-commercial washing of vehicles.
  • Non-commercial pressure washing.
  • Fundraising car washes.

A total of 55 counties have been removed from the Levels 1 and 2 Drought Response in place since last November and designated non-drought.  Water systems in these counties are not responsible for any drought response actions, but must follow the non-drought schedule for landscape watering, which is after 4:00 p.m. and before 10:00 a.m. any day of the week.  Any Georgia county not listed by name in this news release must follow the non-drought schedule.

In addition, improving drought conditions have resulted in 31 counties being upgraded from a Level 2 Drought Response to a Level 1 Drought Response.

Those 43 counties assigned a Level 1 Drought Response are: Athens-Clarke, Banks, Barrow, Bartow, Butts, Carroll, Chattooga, Cherokee, Clayton, Dawson, Elbert, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Gordon, Greene, Haralson, Harris, Hart, Heard, Henry, Jackson, Jasper, Lamar, Madison, Meriwether, Monroe, Morgan, Newton, Oconee, Oglethorpe, Pickens, Pike, Putnam, Rockdale, Spalding, Stephens, Talbot, Taliaferro, Troup, Upson, Walton and Wilkes counties.

A Level 1 Drought Response requires that public water systems implement a public information campaign that includes, at a minimum, public notice regarding drought conditions and drought-specific public service messages in one or more of the following ways: newspaper advertisements, bill inserts, website homepage, social media, and notices in public libraries.

The following activities are allowed under both Level 1 and Level 2 Drought Responses:

  • Irrigation of new and replanted plant, seed, or turf may be done at any time of day for 30 days after installation.
  • Irrigation of personal food gardens may be done at any time of day.
  • Drip irrigation or irrigation using soaker hoses may be done at any time of day and hand-watering with a hose with automatic cutoff or handheld container may be done at any time of day.
  • General landscape watering may be done after 4:00 p.m. and before 10:00 a.m. on the designated days.

More water conservation information is available at http://epd.georgia.gov/water-conservation.

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