In spite of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division easing outdoor watering limits in Forsyth County and 55 other counties including metro Atlanta, the state department is urging Georgians to continue heeding some state law requirements that limit outdoor water use year-round.
The state’s most recent Level 2 Drought Response, which limits when people can use water outside, has focused on Lake Lanier and its tributaries because they serve as a water supply to much of metro Atlanta. Lake Lanier is a federal reservoir and is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“Substantial rainfall over the past few months has led to significant improvement in stream-flows and reservoir levels,” EPD Director Richard Dunn said.
The counties that are moving from a Level 2 Drought Response to a Level 1 are: Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Forsyth, Futon, Gwinnett, Habersham, Hall, Lumpkin, Paulding and White. The EPD had already lifted Level 2 restrictions in the remainder of the state.
“Due to effective river basin management and above-average rainfall, Lake Lanier water levels are up five feet since the start of the year,” Dunn said. “It is typically dry in the fall, but we expect the lake to continue to refill during the winter. As drought recovery continues, we urge citizens to be good stewards of our water resources.”
A Level 1 Drought Response requires permitted public water systems to conduct a public information campaign to explain drought conditions and the need to conserve water.
This decision cancels the Level 2 Drought Response watering schedule that limited landscape watering to two days per week based on odd-even address numbers. It also prohibited other types of water use such as non-commercial vehicle washing and pressure washing.
A Level 1 Drought Response has been lifted in the following counties: 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.
Georgians must still follow the non-drought outdoor water use schedule required in the Water Stewardship Act of 2010. This law allows all types of outdoor water use, but landscape watering is only allowed before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. to limit evaporation during the warmest part of the way.