Per­due re­laxes state drought re­stric­tions

Pools, hand wa­ter­ing per­mit­ted

The Covington News - - Front page - By Rachel Oswald

In the wake of in­creased rains and a grad­ual re­fill­ing of the re­gion’s reser­voirs, Gov. Sonny Per­due has re­laxed sev­eral of the drought re­stric­tions put in place in Septem­ber, in­clud­ing the pro­hi­bi­tion on re­fill­ing swim­ming pools and on the hand-wa­ter­ing of lawns.

The Level 4 Drought Re­sponse re­stric­tions have been eased to al­low hand wa­ter­ing for 25 min­utes per day on an odd-even sched­ule be­tween mid­night and 10 a.m. Odd num­bered ad­dresses can wa­ter on Tues­day, Thurs­day and Sun­day. Even num­bered ad­dresses can wa­ter on Mon­day, Wed­nes­day and Satur­day.

Ac­cord­ing to a press re­lease from the gov­er­nor’s of­fice, hand wa­ter­ing is de­fined as one per­son with one gar­den hose with a spray noz­zle that shuts off when it is re­leased.

The gov­er­nor’s man­date of a 10 per­cent re­duc­tion in wa­ter con­sump­tion re­mains in ef­fect for the 61 N orth Ge­or­gia coun­ties in the Level 4 Drought Re­sponse area, in­clud­ing New­ton County.

Be­gin­ning April 1, how­ever, the wa­ter re­duc­tion re­quire­ment will be cal­cu­lated us­ing av­er­age monthly wa­ter use from the April to Septem­ber pe­riod in 2007.

Cur­rently the wa­ter re­duc­tion re­quire­ment is cal­cu­lated based on wa­ter use dur­ing the pe­riod of De­cem­ber 2006 through March 2007. The move to a sum­mer base­line pe­riod from a win­ter pe­riod will al­low for higher wa­ter con­sump­tion base lev­els as the pub­lic uses more wa­ter dur­ing the sum­mer sea­son said Karl Kelley, di­rec­tor of New­ton County’s Wa­ter Re­sources De­part­ment.

Though New­ton County’s Drought Re­sponse Team, formed in Oc­to­ber in re­sponse to the gov­er­nor’s man­date, met on Wed­nes­day to go over their monthly wa­ter fig­ures. Kelley said the team will meet again next week at the re­quest of County Chair­man Aaron Varner. The team will re­view Gov. Per­due’s re­vised man­date and es­tab­lish uni­form countywide re­stric­tions based on those of the state Kelly said.

“When we met [on Wed­nes­day] we knew that the news [from the gov­er­nor] was com­ing out so we didn’t get an op­por­tu­nity to dis­cuss it at our meet­ing,” Kelley said.

The Drought Re­sponse Team is com­prised of wa­ter util­i­ties whose raw wa­ter source is Lake Varner and/or City Pond.

The gov­er­nor’s de­ci­sion to al­low the re­fill­ing of swim­ming pools comes as a great re­lief to the state’s As­so­ci­a­tion of Pool and Spa Pro­fes­sion­als who lob­bied Per­due hard to ease the ban on the re­fill­ing of swim­ming pools.

Both pub­lic and private swim­ming pools can be re­filled from April through Septem­ber. Ac­cord­ing to the re­lease from the gov­er­nor’s of­fice there are ap­prox­i­mately 6,500 pub­lic pools and 92,000 private pools in the 61county Level 4 Drought Re­sponse area. Ac­cord­ing to the Ge­or­gia En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Di­vi­sion, the re­fill­ing of those pools will re­quire seven mil­lion gal­lons of wa­ter a day.

The gov­er­nor’s re­vised re­stric­tions also al­low for the wa­ter­ing of newly in­stalled land­scapes. For a pe­riod of 10 weeks af­ter the land­scape was first planted, land­scapes can be wa­tered three days a week from mid­night to 10 a.m. Land­scape com­pa­nies must par­tic­i­pate in the Out­door Wa­ter Use Reg­is­tra­tion Pro­gram — which is ex­pected to be im­ple­mented by April 1 — if they wish to take part in the re­vised land­scape re­stric­tions. Those wish­ing to take part in the pro­gram should con­tact County Ex­ten­sion Agent Ted Wynne for help in reg­is­ter­ing.

Lo­cal progress

New­ton County’s util­i­ties fell back slightly in their progress in meet­ing the gov­er­nor’s man­date in Jan­uary. The county re­duced con­sump­tion on a per cus­tomer ba­sis by 6.1 per­cent com­pared to last win­ter. In De­cem­ber the county’s wa­ter util­i­ties had de­creased wa­ter con­sump­tion by 7.5 per­cent.

In Jan­uary wa­ter con­sump­tion rose slightly to 7.063 mil­lion gal­lons com­pared to the 6.957 mil­lion gal­lons used in De­cem­ber, ac­cord­ing to the most re­cent wa­ter con­ser­va­tion re­port card.

Last month the big­gest change in wa­ter us­age came from the New­ton County Wa­ter and Sew­er­age Author­ity which de­creased con­sump­tion by 12.3 per­cent com­pared to De­cem­ber 2007 for an over­all de­crease of 14.7 per­cent from last win­ter.

With 21,797 wa­ter users, the vast ma­jor­ity of which are private res­i­dences, the NCWSA is the county’s largest wa­ter util­ity, con­sum­ing 42.4 per­cent of the county’s to­tal wa­ter pro­duc­tion.

The city of Cov­ing­ton saw its wa­ter con­sump­tion in­crease by more than 25 per­cent in the last month. Ac­cord­ing to wa­ter con­ser­va­tion re­port cards, in De­cem­ber the on a per cus­tomer ba­sis the av­er­age daily us­age was 239.1 gal­lons. In Jan­uary av­er­age daily us­age in­creased to 320.8 gal­lons.

The Wal­ton County Wa­ter and Sew­er­age Author­ity, which owns 25 per­cent of Lake Varner, also saw its con­sump­tion lev­els in­crease slightly in the last month from 164.4 gal­lons a day to 169.8 gal­lons a day.

Wal­ton County fig­ures were not in­cluded in the cal­cu­la­tion of the county’s to­tal wa­ter re­duc- tion as a loss of sup­ply from other sources has re­quired Wal­ton County to with­draw more wa­ter from Lake Varner than in pre­vi­ous years.

To­gether NCWSA, the city of Cov­ing­ton and WCWSA com­prise nearly 95 per­cent of the county’s to­tal wa­ter pro­duc­tion.

The city of Ox­ford and the city of Mansfield greatly de­creased their wa­ter con­sump­tion on a per cus­tomer ba­sis in the last month. Ox­ford de­creased con­sump­tion by 31.4 per­cent since De­cem­ber. Mansfield de­creased con­sump­tion by 17.1 per­cent.

Kelley said he has not re­ceived any re­sponse from EPD to a let­ter he sent last month ask­ing for spe­cial con­sid­er­a­tion of New­ton County’s pop­u­la­tion growth in the last year in meet­ing the gov­er­nor’s 10 per­cent re­duc­tion man­date. The let­ter also asked EPD to eval­u­ate progress on a per cus­tomer ba­sis rather than on a whole­sale ba­sis.

How­ever the latest forms is­sued by EPD to each wa­ter util­ity in the Level 4 Drought Re­sponse area al­lows util­i­ties to fac­tor in the ac­tual num­ber of users so wa­ter re­duc­tion will now be fac­tored on a per cus­tomer ba­sis Kelley said.

Since its low­est point right af­ter Thanks­giv­ing, Lake Varner has risen 7 feet. As of Tues­day the reser­voir was 86 per­cent full. The wa­ter pumped from the Al­covy River has pro­vided the bulk of the reser­voir’s wa­ter re­cov­ery. City Pond re­mains at full lev­els.

South­ern icon: Print­maker shows work at Ox­ford Col­lege

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