U.S. Water News Online
ATLANTA -- Officials in two Georgia counties said they are
considering keeping a water ban in effect despite the state's
decision to lift outdoor water restrictions.
North Fulton and Athens-Clarke county officials said the matter is
still up for discussion. North Fulton County, which draws water from
the Chattahoochee River, used more water than allowed last summer,
according to county spokesman Dwight Towns.
Georgia's long drought is over and the state-imposed outdoor water
ban that went with it have been lifted. Now the Environmental
Protection Division is drawing up rules to deal with future dry
spells, instead of simply reacting to them.
Athens-Clarke County Public Utilities Deputy Manager Bob Snipes
said a final decision on water use was expected soon. The county
pulls its water from the Bear Creek Reservoir, which didn't reach
full level before summer usage dropped it to 60 percent capacity.
The EPD division is putting finishing touches on a plan that
permanently replaces some restrictions to conserve water, no matter
what the weather. Cities and counties can still impose watering bans
as needed. The Department of Natural Resources Board could approve
the plan as early as May.
Among the restrictions would be limiting outdoor use to three days
a week, enough to maintain lawns, EPD spokesman Kevin Chambers said.
If it's approved by the DNR Board, the plan would be presented to
local governments, suppliers, environmentalists and scientists.
The goal is to change Georgians' attitudes toward conservation,
said Nap Caldwell, senior water policy adviser for the EPD. He
compared the plan to the national effort in the 1960s to curb
``The foundation of the campaign was to appeal to the sense of
moral responsibility,'' he said.
The drought began in May 1998. It caused the agency to limit
outdoor watering to every other day. Residents in hardest-hit
counties were additionally forbidden to water their lawns during the
``Most of the state has enjoyed normal to above-normal rainfall
over the past few months, and that means water-use restrictions are
no longer necessary,'' EPD director Harold Reheis said. ``It is
important for all of us to recognize the environmental and economic
benefits that derive from wise and conservative use of our shared
David Stooksbury, a University of Georgia engineer and state
climatologist, said current levels would not provide enough water for
the surging state population. He added that while lakes and streams
have risen, groundwater supplies take longer to catch up.
During the drought, the state imposed stricter limits in 15 metro
Atlanta counties, where outdoor water use was banned from midmorning
to mid-afternoon every day. Many counties there now say they'll
follow the EPD's lead and allow restrictions to be dropped.
Some districts are using other means to encourage conservation. In
DeKalb and Gwinnett counties, for example, water authorities recently
added surcharges for excessive water use during the summer. And
authorities left the door open for future, locally imposed
restrictions if the demand is greater than the supply.
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