Metro Atlanta Declares Level 1 Drought

On Friday, Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division declared a Level 1 drought response for 53 counties. The declaration, which includes Metro Atlanta, requires water providers educate the public about drought conditions and water conservation.

The declaration follows a wet winter, but a dry spring and summer. According to the National Weather Service, from March through August, Atlanta received 16.59 in. of rain – around 8.5 in. less than the 30-year average for the same six-month period. We don’t know how long the dry weather will continue. Rainfall may return to normal, but we need to take reasonable measures to be responsible stewards of water and to be prepared for the possibility this is a long-term drought.

The state’s permanent year-round outdoor watering restrictions limit outdoor watering to the hours between 4 p.m. and 10 a.m. to avoid the hottest part of the day when more evaporation occurs, with certain limited exceptions as set forth in the 2010 Georgia Water Stewardship Act.

“Outdoor watering outside of these allowable times can place a strain on our water resources and reduce the amount of water in our reservoirs, lakes, rivers and streams,” says Commissioner Kishia L. Powell. “It can also affect our ability to provide water for our basic needs, including fire protection.”

Additional water conservation measures are encouraged as drought conditions continue in order to manage water supply and to ensure adequate water is fire protection. Atlanta residents can pick up free water-saving kits at any Fire Station in the city limits.

The Department of Watershed Management also offers rain barrel classes to help residents collect and conserve water. The next class will take place on Sept. 22.

As a reminder, here are some ways metro Atlanta residents can save water:

  • Using a rain gauge to determine how much it has rained over the week before watering outdoor plants. Most outdoor plants need an inch of water per week.
  • Water in several short sessions instead of one long session. This reduces runoff and allows water to infiltrate into soil and plant roots.
  • Only water lawns when needed. If the blades of grass don’t bounce back after walking across the lawn, it is time to water. Water lawns and plants in the early morning and late evening.
  • 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.

For more information, to register for rain barrel classes or to learn about conservation tips, go to www.atlantawatershed.org.

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