By Tia Lynn Ivey
As the drought in Georgia persists, water conservation is being encouraged by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GDNR). The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) declared a Level 1 Drought Response in 53 counties across the state, including Morgan County.
Earlier this week, GDNR Director Richard E. Dunn released a statement urging Georgians in the 53 affected counties to conserve water. The drought which began last Spring, is expected to continue through the Fall.
“A Level 1 Drought Response is a good opportunity to partner with our public water utilities to promote good stewardship and to remind Georgians of the importance of using water wisely,” said Dunn.
According to the federal government’s U.S. Drought Monitor, “nearly all of the counties affected by the Level 1 Drought Response declaration are experiencing severe and extreme drought conditions.”
However, according to City Manager David Nunn, the Madison City Water Department is not experiencing any water shortages due to the drought.
“We are in pretty good shape,” said Nunn. “We have great sources of water supply from Hard Labor Creek and the Apalachee River, so we have no problem whatsoever supplying the needs for our areas.” The city provides water for all of Madison, and parts of Bostwick, Rutledge and Buckhead. “But we always encourage conservation,” added Nunn. “But with our water supply, we are prepared for good times and tougher times. We are in a pretty good position to weather some of these short-term droughts that happen.”
Morgan County is one of the lucky areas. According to Richard Dunn, water utilities all across the state are working hard to protect their dwindling water supplies.
“Water utilities have already taken action to insure that water supplies are generally good and practicing effective water conservation will help provide sufficient supplies through the coming months if dry conditions persist,” said Dunn.
Under the Level 1 designation, both groundwater and surface water utilities are required to participate in a public information campaign, circulating drought and water conservation information in one or more of the following: newspaper advertisements, water bill inserts, website homepages, social media and notices posted in public libraries. According to Dunn, “In addition, the outdoor water use schedule required under the Water Stewardship Act of 2010 remains in place statewide. This schedule allows outdoor water use year-round between 4 p.m. and 10 a.m.”
State Climatologist Bill Murphey predicts the drought in North Georgia will last through the Fall.
“North Georgia has had a hot, dry summer and the fall season is a historically a dry time of the year,” said Murphey. “Current drought conditions are likely to continue through the fall season, although tropical activity and rain-producing systems can provide beneficial rainfall.”
According to Dunn, public water utility systems may not impose restrictions on outdoor watering that are different from the state requirements unless they obtain a variance from the EPD. “
The state’s rules for drought management and outdoor water use have changed since the last major drought. More information, including tips for water conservation, is available at: www.epd.georgia.gov/water-conservation.