After months of abnormally dry and warm conditions, 52 north Georgia counties are now facing water use restrictions in accordance with Gov. Nathan Deal’s Level 2 drought response designation. Fifty-eight other counties are being required to implement Level 1 drought responses.
Homeowners and businesses in the affected counties must limit their landscape irrigation to two days a week. Even-numbered addresses and properties without numbered addresses may water on Wednesdays and Saturdays between 4 p.m. and 10 a.m. Odd-numbered addresses may water Thursdays and Sundays, also between 4 p.m. and 10 a.m.
The Level 2 drought response also calls for homeowners and business owners to refrain from washing hard surfaces, such as streets and sidewalks; washing cars at home or for fundraisers; noncommercial pressure washing; using fountains or water features; and using fire hydrants for any reason except for firefighting and public safety.
Irrigation of newly installed turf or landscape plants or vegetable gardens; irrigation at commercial nurseries, parks, sports fields and golf courses; hand-watering; and irrigation with drip or soaker hoses are exempt from these regulations, as these are considered agricultural water uses.
Counties that are part of the Level 2 drought response area include: Banks, Barrow, Bartow, Butts, Carroll, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cherokee, Athens-Clarke, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, Dade, Dawson, DeKalb, Douglas, Fannin, Fayette, Floyd, Forsyth, Fulton, Gilmer, Gordon, Gwinnett, Habersham, Hall, Haralson, Harris, Heard, Henry, Jackson, Lamar, Lumpkin, Meriwether, Monroe, Morgan, Murray, Newton, Oconee, Paulding, Pickens, Pike, Polk, Rockdale, Spalding, Troup, Union, Upson, Walker, Walton, White and Whitfield.
Fifty-eight counties have been designated as Level 1 drought areas, which requires water authorities to launch water conservation campaigns and restricts outdoor water use to between 4 p.m. and 10 a.m.
The counties included in the Level 1 drought response are: Baker, Baldwin, Bibb, Bleckley, Calhoun, Chattahoochee, Clay, Columbia, Crawford, Crisp, Decatur, Dooly, Dougherty, Early, Elbert, Franklin, Glascock, Greene, Hancock, Hart, Houston, Jasper, Jefferson, Jones, Laurens, Lee, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, Marion, McDuffie, Miller, Mitchell, Muscogee, Oglethorpe, Peach, Pulaski, Putnam, Quitman, Rabun, Randolph, Richmond, Schley, Seminole, Stephens, Stewart, Sumter, Talbot, Taliaferro, Taylor, Terrell, Towns, Twiggs, Warren, Washington, Webster, Wilkes and Wilkinson.
University of Georgia Cooperative Extension has a long list of resources for homeowners and farmers coping with the drought, and for members of the media covering the drought.
Experts for covering the drought:
Local UGA Extension Agents
Every county in Georgia has access to a local expert on local drought conditions and water conservation measures. Visit extension.uga.edu to find your local agent.
Pam Knox, agricultural climatologist for UGA Extension
firstname.lastname@example.org (Email is best)
Knox is a good source for historical context for this drought as well as explanations of the climatological patterns that have kept Georgia warmer and drier than normal.
Sheri Dorn, coordinator for the Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer program
Dorn has a wide-ranging horticultural background and has led the Georgia Master Gardener program as the group has focused on water conservation education.
She can offer a multitude of tips for helping your landscape survive dry times.
She coordinates a team of hundreds of volunteers working in gardens and communities across Georgia and is a great source for perspective for what the drought looks like in different parts of the state.
Gary Hawkins, agricultural water resources specialist for UGA Extension
Hawkins is a source for information on agricultural water use and the drought’s impact on agriculture.
Ben Campbell, UGA applied economist who focuses on the impact of the green industry
Campbell is an economist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences who studies the impact of the green industry.
Clint Waltz, UGA Extension turfgrass specialist
Waltz is a source for information on the science behind your lawn during a drought.
Matt Chappell, UGA Extension nursery plant production specialist
Chappell can help explain how the drought is impacting the nursery industry and landscape shrubs.