Drought leads to fur­ther wa­ter re­stric­tions

Changes ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - By Rachel Oswald

As a re­sult of low lev­els at the Lake Varner and City Pond reser­voirs, fur­ther out­door wa­ter­ing re­stric­tions have been an­nounced and are ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately in ac­cor­dance with New­ton County’s drought/emer­gency con­tin­gency plan.

All out­door wa­ter­ing is now lim­ited to the fol­low­ing sched­ule: Odd num­bered ad­dresses may only wa­ter their lawns be­tween the hours of mid­night and 10 a.m. on Tues­days. Even num­bered ad­dresses may only wa­ter their lawns be­tween the hours of mid- night and 10 a.m. on Thurs­days.

Out­door wa­ter use is pro­hib­ited on all other dates and times.

Ac­cord­ing to a press re­lease on the mat­ter, the wa­ter level at Lake Varner is five feet be­low full pool level, mean­ing that the lake is 70 per­cent full.

City Pond is cur­rently six feet be­low full pool level. Wa­ter flow from the Al­covy River — which is used to fill City Pond and the Wil­liams Street plant — is so low that the New­ton County Wa­ter and Sewage Author­ity is with­draw­ing four mil­lion gal­lons fewer than usual.

Based on a cur­rent av­er­age daily us­age of 13 mil­lion gal­lons, the county has a 182-day wa­ter sup­ply left ac­cord­ing to the re­lease.

Full pool level at Lake Varner is 701 feet above sea level. Ac­cord­ing to the county’s drought con­tin­gency plan, when the first trig­ger level of 696 feet at Lake Varner is reached the plan must go into af­fect and a stage one mi­nor emer­gency de­clared.

New­ton County Wa­ter Re­sources Di­rec­tor Karl Kelley said the county learned they had reached the 696 feet trig­ger point when Lake Varner was mea­sured Thurs­day morn­ing.

How­ever Kelley said that the county was in bet­ter con­di­tion than other parts of the state on ac­count of the fact that it en­tered the drought sea­son with full wa­ter lev­els at Lake Varner.

“We are in much, much bet­ter shape than many other coun­ties,” Kelley said. “But we want to stay there, that’s why we wanted to start th­ese re­stric­tions now.”

Ac­cord­ing to the county’s drought/emer­gency con­tin­gency plan, there are three trig­ger lev­els. The county has reached the first mi­nor trig­ger level. The sec­ond level will be reached if Lake Varner drops to 692 feet (mean­ing the lake is half empty) at which time the sit­u­a­tion will be­come mod­er­ate in sever­ity. The third level, which would es­tab­lish a se­vere emer­gency state, is reached if Lake Varner falls to 687.5 feet.

Be­fore the latest wa­ter re­stric­tions, New­ton County (and the rest of the state) was par­tic­i­pat­ing in the level 2 re­stric­tions es­tab­lished by the Ge­or­gia En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Di­vi­sion in April which al­lowed out­door wa­ter­ing three nights a week for even and odd-num­bered ad­dresses.

The new ban on non-es­sen­tial wa­ter use is in­tended to re­duce the de­mand on wa­ter re­sources by 10 ten per­cent ac­cord­ing to the county’s drought con­tin­gency play.

Non- es­sen­tial ac­tiv­i­ties in­cluded in th­ese re­stric­tions are: lawn and land­scape wa­ter­ing, pool/pond fill­ing, car wash­ing and recre­ational use.

Ac­tiv­i­ties al­lowed un­der th­ese re­stric­tions in­clude: com­mer­cial car wash­ing op­er­a­tions, char­ity car wash events, pub­lic safety, emer­gency ser­vices and emer­gency fa­cil­i­ties, in­dus­try and com­mer­cial use, com­mer­cial land­scape op­er­a­tions (per the new Tues­day/Thurs­day sched­ule above), com­mer­cial nurs­eries and farm­ing and live­stock use.

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