Public water users in Cherokee County will soon be getting messages urging them to conserve water because of a drought affecting 103 Georgia counties, officials said.

The state Environmental Protection Division on Friday announced that because of a lingering dry spell from summer until now much of the state is in a Level 1 drought. City and county water systems in those counties, including Cherokee, are required to provide customers information on how to conserve water and encourage them to do so. No additional restrictions are required outside of the year-round required outdoor water use schedule.

The water use schedule required under the Water Stewardship Act of 2010, limits outdoor water use year-round to the hours between 4 p.m. and 10 a.m.

In response to consultation with 350 local water authorities, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division has placed Georgia on a Level 1 drought response, which triggers production of educational materials, like “notice regarding drought conditions and drought-specific announcements in newspaper or online ads, bill inserts, social media and notices in public libraries,” according to Kevin Chambers, a spokesman for the Georgia EPD.

Lake Allatoona was nine feet below its normal level of 840 feet on Friday, according to Acworth Mayor Tommy Allegood. Allegood said water levels are expected to keep dropping to 822 by mid-December.

While the metro Atlanta area can expect up to about an inch of rain this weekend thanks to tropical storm Nestor, it seems that it won’t be the soaking rain the state needs to pull it out of its drought conditions, according to Ty Vaughn, meteorologist with the Peachtree City branch of the National Weather Service.

Vaughn said about four or five inches would be needed to get severe drought areas back to normal.

“We can probably expect to see drought conditions this week and into next week,” he said, adding that the accuracy of the forecast outside of the next 10 days is hit-or-miss.

According to AccuWeather, Saturday’s high will be 56 degrees, with a 62% chance of rain. Sunday’s high is expected to reach 74, with only a 6% chance of rain.

Monday — with a high of 74 — also shows a slight chance of rain during the day, only 25%, but the evening chances rise to 84%, according to Accuweather’s forecast.

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