Marines

Georgia increases water restrictions due to drought

3 May 2007 | Mr. Nathan L. Hanks Jr.

Level Two Drought has been declared by Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division. 

Due to the lack of rain, residents throughout Georgia, including Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, are required to follow a more stringent outdoor water use schedule. 

“Every area of Georgia has been in a persistent and progressive drought condition since lat June,” said Carol A. Couch, director, EPD, in a news release on the agency’s Web site. “It’s important that we take steps now to prepare for the warm, typically dry summer months.”

Effective immediately, residents can only water their lawns from midnight to 10 a.m.

The difference between Level One Drought and Level Two Drought is that the 4 p.m. to midnight watering schedule has been suspended. 

Residents are also reminded that they are to water their lawns on certain days. 

Those addresses that end in an even number may water on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.  Odd numbered addresses may water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. No one is allowed to water on Fridays. 

“These rules and regulations are to be taken seriously and will be enforced by the Installations and Environment Division,” said John Topper, environmental protective specialist, Environmental Branch, Installations and Environment Division, MCLB Albany. 

“March was very dry and it’s historically a very wet month for Georgia,” David Stooksbury, state climatologist, said in a news release. “That’s one of the reasons we’re in trouble now.”

Topper added that if the drought worsens, EPD will continue to issue stricter rules regarding the usage of water outdoors.

“This is the first time that we (Georgia and MCLB Albany) have entered into this phase of the drought,” Topper said. “In the past, we know that the summer months, on average, have been dry.  If this is the case this year, additional measures will be taken.

“We do not know how long the drought will last so it is imperative that everyone continue to do their part to conserve water,” he added.

Topper stressed the importance of conserving water, both indoors and outdoors. Residents can help by washing full loads of laundry and limiting time in the shower.  Military units wanting to hold car washes must contact the Environmental Branch office for permission.

Also, Level Two Drought is known as the agriculture drought level.

According to Eddie Parramore, natural resource manager, Environmental Branch, the soil is too dry and hard to plant at the present time. 

“However, the deer and other animals are not doing without as they have plenty of other food sources in the woods, at least for the time being,” Parramore said. 

He also mentioned that the drought can eventually affect the pecan trees.

“The pecan trees are all right for now,” he said.  “Because of the extended dry periods, the crop may suffer from lack of rain, causing the small pecans to fall off the trees.

For information about the drought call Environmental Branch office at 639-5637. 

The four levels Outdoor Water Usage drought conditions, their definitions and rules and Outdoor Water Use Schedules can be found at website www.georgiaepd.com; water conservation at www.ugaextension.com or by calling the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension office at 1-800-ASK-UGA1; and more drought information can be found at www.georgiadrought.org. 

Frequently Asked Questions about water restrictions

Q. To whom do water-use restrictions apply?
A. The restrictions apply to everyone in the state, to one extent or another. Some water authorities have put total outdoor water use bans in place.  Please contact your water authority for the restrictions in place for your address. 

Q. How do odd/even water-use restrictions work?
A. If the home or business has an even numbered street address, you may water for outdoor purposes on even-numbered calendar days except during the hours of the water restrictions. Water restriction times may vary from county to county. 

If the home or business has an odd numbered street address, you may water for outdoor purposes on odd numbered calendar days except during the hours of the water restrictions. Water restriction times may vary from county to county. 

An even-numbered street address may not use water for any outdoor watering on an odd numbered calendar day. Likewise, an odd-numbered street address may not use water for any outdoor watering on an even-numbered calendar day. 

Q. How does the EPD decide to put water-use restrictions in place?
A. Officials at EPD look at many indicators of moisture in the state, including ground water levels, stream flows, reservoir levels, rainfall in the last 90 days, expected precipitation in the next 90 days and water use patterns across the state to make that decision. The indicators come from the state climatologist, United States Geological Survey, National Weather Service, EPD staff and water utilities managers. There’s no formula and there’s no specifically defined scoring sheet. Instead, after collecting the information, EPD makes a decision to (or not to) put water-use restrictions in place. It’s not done lightly - there’s a lot of scientific data that goes into the decision and they realize the effect it has on day-to-day life for the people of Georgia. However, they do have your best interests in mind and are working to ensure a continued supply of drinking water. 

Q. How does the EPD decide on times for outdoor water-use restrictions?
A. The EPD set the times for the restrictions based on local water-use patterns.  The times set are based on when the most water is used: businesses use the most during the day to water their landscaping and homeowners use the most water outdoors including washing cars and watering lawns and gardens when they get home from work. By restricting water use during these times, EPD could quickly affect the amount of water being drawn from the resources available. 

Q. When will outdoor water-use restrictions be lifted?
A. When groundwater and surface water resources are severely depleted, it takes almost as many years to get out of drought level as it takes to get into it. Even when it seems it’s been raining every day or when not far off from the “normal” rainfall patterns for a month or so, the water resources haven’t yet recharged.  There is still and is always a need to conserve our water resources.

Q. What are the types of droughts?
A. Meteorological drought can come and go as frequently, and as quickly, as rainstorms do. 

Agricultural drought is based on moisture levels in the top 24 or so inches of the soil - where plants need it - and where conditions can change dramatically with one good rainstorm. It also resets every year. 

Hydrological drought is much deeper. Hydrological conditions - surface and groundwater levels and flows - are measured continuously, drought or not, so it covers a longer time period with no resetting. 

So, meteorological drought comes and goes; agricultural drought does the same, but a little more slowly; and hydrological drought takes many years to get into and out of. 

Q. Does the ban announced by EPD apply to the filling of private swimming pools or other water toys (sliding mats, sprinklers, etc.)?
A. The ban does apply to the filling of private swimming pools and other home/recreational uses. Like any other outdoor water uses, you can use water outdoors recreationally outside the hours of the bans and according to the restrictions in place for your address.
Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany