Henry County faces Level 2 Drought
Nov 18, 2016 by Chris Wood, Ph.D.
On a day when the Henry County Water Authority (HCWA) received the industry’s highest award for water distribution system excellence, the state declared that the drought impacting north Georgia counties warrants additional outdoor water use restrictions. Unfortunately, not even the best water systems in Georgia can make it rain.
With drought conditions worsening across most of the state, Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) Director Rick Dunn issued notice on Nov. 17, elevating 52 counties, including Henry, from a Level 1 to a Level 2 Drought Response. As a result, HCWA customers will have to adhere to more stringent outdoor water use practices.
According to the Level 2 Drought Response for HCWA customers, outdoor landscape watering is allowed only two days per week, determined by odd- and even-numbered addresses. Even numbered addresses and properties without numbered addresses may water on Wednesdays and Saturdays, except between the hours of 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Odd-numbered addresses may water Thursdays and Sundays, also excluding the hours of 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The Level 2 Drought Declaration by Georgia EPD for Henry County and other metro Atlanta and north Georgia communities is the result of “an extended period of little or no rain and increasing dryness in the impacted areas,” says Dunn. In addition, weather forecasters predict a dryer than normal winter, which is typically the wettest time of the year in Georgia.
According to EPD officials, the middle of November marked the 22nd consecutive week of severe drought for metro Atlanta, with soil and stream conditions in some cases worse than they were during the state droughts of 2007 and 2011.
Outdoor water use is prohibited, according to Level 2 Drought Response protocol, for the following activities:
- Washing hard surfaces, such as streets, driveways and sidewalks
- Water use for ornamental purposes, such as fountains
- Any use of fire hydrants except for instances of firefighting or public safety
- Non-commercial washing of vehicles
- Non-commercial pressure washing
- Fundraising car washes
Because of its independent network of five drinking water reservoirs, the HCWA is in excellent shape to mitigate the negative impact of persistent drought, say Authority officials. HCWA Division Manager of Water Operations Pat Hembree says that currently the Authority’s drinking water reservoirs are at a healthy 74% of full capacity, which equates to enough water supply for 307 days of customer demand.
HCWA officials also note that the Authority is among those metro Atlanta and north Georgia water utilities in the best shape to manage drought conditions presently, primarily because of long-term planning that now provides a healthy raw water supply for drinking water production. As a result, the HCWA does not need to request a variance from Georgia EPD to impose water use restrictions greater than the current state requirements.
“While we always want to encourage wise water use, especially during drought conditions, we likewise want to assure our customers that we have more than adequate water supply to meet their average daily demand,” says Tony Carnell, HCWA Deputy Manager. “The additional water use restrictions impacting our customers are the result of declines in rainfall, soil moisture and stream flows, rather than the result of inadequate water supply.”
More information is available online at http://epd.georgia.gov/water-conservation.
Chris Wood, Ph.D.