State of Georgia under Level 1 drought restrictions

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It's the second day of summer, and new water restrictions have begun in Georgia.

The new rules come from the state Environmental Protection Division with the approval of the governor.

Under the Level 1 Drought Management Plan, outdoor watering is banned from 10 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon.

Georgia's restrictions are added to the bans already in place here in Augusta.

It's going to be a little tougher to keep your lawn green this summer.

Georgia's rainfall deficit is now up to four percent in some areas. Worsening drought conditions--mostly in north Georgia and Atlanta--have the entire state under new watering regulations. That along with low stream flow means a big change in how you can water your lawn.

"Which means that there's no outdoor watering between ten in the morning and four in the afternoon," said Augusta Utilities directory Max Hicks.

Wednesday, the state Environmental Protection Division declared a Level One Drought.

Governor Sonny Perdue has immediately ordered the state under an odd-even address watering system, a system most our area was already using. But now there's also a ban on outdoor watering during the heat of the day.

And perhaps many people are not aware of the new regulations. We went out at about 12:15 the afternoon of June 22 and found lots of sprinklers on...some of them managed by the city.

"It is ironic that the sprinklers are running as we're talking, but hopefully they're getting cut off as were talking," Hicks said.

Hicks says most folks are not aware of the news rules, and that's why he and his staff are working hard to spread the word.

The statewide restrictions will remain in effect until all drought indicators have improved over a four month period.

Richmond and Columbia County's utilities departments are enforcing the new rules.

The first time you are caught watering during restricted times, you will get a warning Any time after that, your water could be cut off, with a $25 fee to have it turned back on.

The state of Georgia is in Level 1 of the state's Drought Management Plan.

There are four levels of drought, with 1 being the lowest and 4 being the highest. At Level 4, no outdoor water use would be allowed.

Georgia has a very detailed Drought Management Plan. To read the plan, visit the Environmental Protection Division's Water Resources page and click on "State Drought Management Plan".

Augusta is much better prepared for a drought than the city was in 1998 and 1999.

The city's water system in those days was old and unreliable, and at one point a pump had to be borrowed from the Savannah River Site.

Since then, many changes have been made, including the construction of a new raw water line, a new treatment facility, and a new tank.