The Georgia Environmental Protection Division has declared a Level 2 drought response for 53 counties in North Georgia, including the 15 counties in the Metro Water District. The response limits outdoor watering of lawns, gardens and trees to at most twice a week and prohibits a number of outdoor watering activities.
The declaration comes amid a severe drought in the region that has persisted into the fall. In October, the Atlanta region saw just 0.16 inches of rain. To date, the region’s annual rainfall is nearly 13 inches below normal, and experts predict warm, dry weather will persist through the winter.
We don’t know how long this drought will last. But we need to prepare for continuing drought, which means we must all do our part to use water wisely.
The Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District (Metro Water District) has developed a fact sheet that provides an overview of the new watering restrictions for residential users that are now in place, along with water conservation tips. Please share this with your family, friends, co-workers and neighbors.
Level 2 Drought Response – Outdoor Watering Restrictions
The following outdoor watering restrictions are now in place:
- Outdoor watering of lawns, gardens and trees is limited to:
- Before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m.
- Up to twice a week – even addresses and sites with no numbered address may water on Wednesday/Saturday, and odd addresses on Thursday/Sunday
- Before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m.
The Level 2 drought response also prohibits a number of outdoor watering activities, such as washing sidewalks and driveways and washing cars at home, and requires utilities to implement drought response measures.
- Residents should only water as needed. In the fall and winter months, outdoor plants need less water. Water when plants show signs of distress (curling, wilting, graying foliage).
- Outdoor watering activities that are NOT allowed:
- Washing streets, gutters, sidewalks and driveways
- Ornamental uses, such as fountains and waterfalls
- Washing vehicles (cars, boats, etc) at home
- Non-commercial washing or pressure washing
- Charity or non-commercial fund-raiser car washes
- Outdoor watering that IS Allowed: *
- Irrigation of personal food gardens
- Irrigation of new and replanted seed, turf or plants for a period of 30 days following installation
- Watering with drip irrigation or soaker hose
- Hand watering, including watering cans and hoses with auto shut-off nozzles
- Use of water withdrawn from private water wells
- Additional exemptions to the Level 2 outdoor watering restrictions
* Not subject to the 4 p.m. to 10 a.m. or twice-a-week restrictions.
Steps metro Atlanta residents can take to conserve water
It’s important to note that dry periods are part of the normal weather cycle. We don’t know how long this drought may last, but we should always do our part to conserve. As a reminder, here are some ways metro Atlanta residents can save water:
- Check and repair leaks inside and outside the home.
- Shorten showers and turn off water when shaving or brushing teeth.
- Fill dishwashers and washing machines. Make sure there is a full load every time.
- Replace older toilets and shower heads with high efficiency models. If your home was built before 1993, you may qualify for a toilet rebate.
- Choose efficient appliances. Look for EPA WaterSense and ENERGY STAR labeled products when shopping for new appliances and fixtures.
- Scrape dishes before washing them. Avoid using the garbage disposal. It wastes a lot of water and can contribute to pipe clogs.
More conservation tips can be found at MyDropCounts.org.
The Atlanta Region has a robust track record of water conservation
Since its creation in 2001, the Metro Water District has implemented one of the most comprehensive regional water management plans in the country that includes:
- A toilet rebate program that has replaced more than 110,000 old fixtures with high-efficient models, saving nearly a billion gallons of water a year
- A tiered pricing structure that charges higher rates the more water that is used, encouraging conservation
- A sophisticated leak detection program that has enabled utilities to detect and repair more than 23,000 leaks in the past four years alone, using new methods such as sonar to inspect pipes.
As a result of these and other practices, water use in the Metro Water District has dropped by more than 10 percent since 2001, despite a population increase of more than one million. In addition, water demand forecasts show that the region will use 25 percent less water in 2050 than was estimated as recently as 2009.