story 4 wjcPosted: April 2, 2009
Athens-Clarke County is still in drought conditions, despite the rain.
North Georgia, including ACC, received steady rainfall several times during the past month. According to state climatologists on the Georgia Environmental Department’s web-site, the amount of rainfall received by North Georgia in March is consistent with normal levels. The department’s rainfall map shows ACC has received around 14.4 inches of rainfall for the year.
Experts are quick to point out that the rainfall may not be enough to end the severe drought trend.
“We’ve received rain,” Marilyn Hall, the ACC water conservation coordinator said, “but it’s the Georgia Department of Natural resources who determines whether or not a county is in a drought.”
Hall stated that ACC is still considered to be at drought level four along with 55 counties in Georgia. Level four is considered the most serious level and carries the most restrictions on water usage.
The ACC guidelines state that the restrictions ban all forms of outdoor watering except by hand on an odd-even schedule. Odd addresses are allowed to water for 25 minutes a day on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays before 10 a.m. Even numbered addresses are allowed to do so on Saturdays, Mondays and Wednesdays.
Restrictions apply to all residential, government and commercial properties in ACC. Other restrictions include pressure washing except for health and safety reasons or filling a pool without a permit, washing cars except by commercial businesses with a special permit and others. The ACC website should be checked for other restrictions regarding outdoor water usage.
Hall stated that the restrictions are staying at their highest level for the time being, adding that the department may be reluctant to take ACC off the list of drought level counties in particular.
“Soil moisture is the most important thing to measure,” Hall said. “The rivers are up because of the rain, but the GDN has to look at the amount of ground water to determine how bad things are.”
A report was released by David Stooksbury, a state climatologist and professor in UGA’s College of Agricultural and environmental sciences on Monday, March 30. The report stated that small and medium sized reservoirs in North Georgia have been refilled, with the exceptions of Lake Lanier, the Savannah River Basin, Russell and Clarke’s Hill and Lake Hartwell.
Stooksbury’s report listed counties in Northwest Georgia as being completely out of the drought for March while South Georgia continues to receive little to no rainfall. The long-term rainfall deficit, according to Stooksbury, is now the major concern for Northern counties.
Soil recharge will likely be ending soon with the increased use of water by growing plants during April, according to the report. This combined with the typically decreased amount of rainfall from May through October could prolong drought conditions.
Citizens of ACC are required to adhere to the water usage restrictions until they are lifted or modified. Those wishing to file an informal complaint against violations can go to http://www.athensclarkecounty.com/publicutilities/water.htm and follow directions listed there.