Georgia Environmental Protection Division lifts outdoor watering restrictions

Georgia's Environmental Protection Division (EPD) on Jan. 14 removed outdoor watering restrictions for the first time in two years.

Officials still encourage continued conservation through odd-even watering

Jan. 27, 2003 -- Georgia's Environmental Protection Division (EPD) on Jan. 14 removed outdoor watering restrictions for the first time in two years.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division (EPD), still urged water consumers to continue wise water use and beneficial conservation habits.

EPD Director Harold Reheis has announced the end of the mandate that had required residents of the metro Atlanta 15-county region to adhere to an off-even outdoor watering schedule during the specified hours of midnight to 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. to midnight. The watering ban went into effect Jan. 13, 2000, after North Georgia had suffered through two years of extended drought.

The drought continued through September of last year, but above average rainfall and encouraging weather projections have allowed the state regulators to ease the restrictions on discretionary residential and commercial water use.

"While I am removing EPD imposed restrictions because we are no longer confronted with a drought emergency situation, it is important for all of us to recognize the environmental and economic benefits that derive from wise use of our shared waters," he says. "The drought of the past five years has painfully demonstrated how vulnerable many areas of our state are to limitations on water supply in the face of increasing demands on those supplies."

Water resources must be carefully managed, added Reheis, noting the end of a lengthy process by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to outline a comprehensive, statewide drought management plan.

Many of the counties have already been implementing such a management plan for years, making use of seasonal conservation rates by the authority to create financial incentives for customers to conserve water during the peak demand months. Public education on water conservation continues as well.

Officials at the Henry County Water & Sewerage Authority (HCWSA) are hoping its residents still pay attention to the calendar, and water on an odd-even system to continue beneficial water conservation practices.

"We've enforced watering restrictions locally the past few years because of the mandate from the state, though our reservoirs have been in pretty good shape during that time," says Lindy Farmer, general manager of the HCWSA. "The restrictions forced customers into the habit of water conservation, so we' d hate for them to lose sight of the importance of that now that the restrictions have been lifted."

"With the growth we are experiencing in Henry County, customer demands during peak periods could exceed our current drinking water capacity as early as 2004," explains Farmer. "Our Tussahaw Reservoir, which has been approved for construction by state and federal regulators, will address the long- term demands for drinking water. But nothing is more beneficial to our water supply than wise consumption and continued conservation on the part of our customers."

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