Worsening drought conditions throughout most of the state have prompted a Level 1 Drought Response declaration from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.
According to the federal government’s U.S. Drought Monitor, found at droughtmonitor.unl.edu/CurrentMap/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?GA, the drought has affected the entire state with conditions ranging from abnormally dry to extreme drought.
As a result, most of the counties in Georgia must follow the Level 1 Drought Response requirements. This includes Polk County, and several surrounding areas including Bartow, Gordon, Haralson, Paulding and Carroll counties.
“This serves as a reminder for all Georgians to use water wisely,” said EPD Director Richard Dunn. “It also gives public water systems an opportunity to educate their customers on the importance of water conservation.”
To determine the appropriate level of drought response, EPD considers several factors including precipitation, stream flows, groundwater, reservoir levels, short-term climate predictions and soil moisture.
EPD monitors and produces publicly available reports on these conditions on a monthly basis.
“The current flash drought we are in is primarily agricultural, but it can also affect water supply,” said state climatologist Bill Murphey. “It came on quickly due to the intense daytime heating, lack of rainfall and sudden decrease in soil moisture we experienced in September.”
Level 1 drought conditions also require an outdoor water use schedule to be adhered to until further notice, based on the Water Stewardship Act of 2010.
It limits outdoor water use year-round to the hours between 4 p.m. and 10 a.m. There are several exceptions to this limitation listed at epd.georgia.gov/watershed-protection-branch/water-conservation.
For example, the following activities may be done at any time of day under a Level 1 Drought Response:
♦ Irrigation of personal food gardens may be done at any time of day;
♦ Irrigation of new and replanted plant, seed, or turf may be done at any time of day for 30 days after installation;
♦ 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.
Additional information will be forthcoming from local public utilities in the days to come about water usage.