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All outdoor watering banned
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Newton County Water Resources Director Karl Kelley reported the declaration of an outdoor watering ban to the Newton County Board of Commissioners at Tuesday night's meeting.

"Last Friday, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division mandated a level four drought response which is a total watering ban," Kelly said.

The level four drought response prohibits residential outdoor watering 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is in effective for the northern third of the state including Newton County.

Banned usage includes watering lawns and plants by any method with fresh water, washing vehicles, filling swimming pools, hosing down walkways or patios and pressure washing.

Exemptions on the ban do exist for the irrigation of personal food gardens, golf courses, sports fields, sod producers, fruit and vegetable growers and car washes.

The lower portion of the state remains under a level two drought response, which allows odd numbered houses to water on certain days and even numbered houses to water on the others.

Kelley also optimistically reported Lake Varner, the source of the county's drinking water, currently holds 2.5 billion gallons of water.

"It is well-above the low level recorded Sept. 11, 2002," Kelley said.

He added City Pond, another large source of the county's water supply, also has been greatly replenished due to the repairs recently made to the Alcovy Pump Station.

"Newton County is really in a better situation than most metropolitan counties," Kelley said.

For more information about the drought response or exemptions, visit

In other news from Tuesday night's Board of Commissioners meeting:

• Commissioners approved the rezoning in the vicinity of Griffin Mountain Trail and changed the future land use map. The board had previously twice denied the request of I-20 East, Inc. to rezone the land from agricultural residential to low-density single-family residential as well as to change the future land use map to low-density residential.

 I-20 East, Inc. intends to expand a subdivision already under construction in Rockdale County into Newton County, developing a 37-lot residential open space conservation subdivision on 27.25 acres for a density of 1.43 lots per acre.

• The board entered into an agreement with the Georgia Department of Transportation to accept responsibility for the right of way acquisition of a project at Salem Road (Ga. Highway 162) and Spring Road (County Road 33) to for a traffic light and turn lane.