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County does not request state ease current watering restrictions
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While a number of north Georgia counties have successfully petitioned the state for a relaxation of their water restrictions, Newton County has no plans to do so at this point.

In May, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division announced that counties under Level 4 drought restrictions -which only allow the watering of lawns for 25 minutes a day, three days a week - that do not rely on Lake Lanier or releases from Buford Dam, can apply for modified drought restrictions.

Karl Kelley, director of the Newton County Water Resources Department, said county officials discussed applying for a relaxation of the restrictions, but decided that due to the dry weather, the time was not right to move to more lenient restrictions.

"We decided to delay asking the state," Kelley said, adding that the county would likely reassess its position at the end of July.

Thus far 46 water utilities have received approval from EPD to move to more lenient restrictions including Henry and Rockdale counties, according to a release from EPD.

Utilities can apply for Level 4a, 4b or 4c restrictions, which allow night lawn watering one day, two days and three days a week respectively. Rockdale and Henry counties have both moved to the Level 4c restrictions.

Lake Varner is currently 698.4 feet full Kelley said, which is a foot higher than where it was at this time last year. Full pool level is 701.4 feet. Kelley said water production is down 12.3 percent from last summer's average.

Newton County has traditionally opted for a more conservationist approach than other metro Atlanta counties when it comes to its water resources. Last August, when pool levels at Lake Varner were 696 feet, the county voluntarily moved to tougher watering restrictions than those required by the state at that time.

Because of its generally more conservationist approach, the county never saw its reservoirs dip as low as others in Metro Atlanta, such as Lake Lanier and Lake Allatoona, during the winter's long drought. Still at its lowest point last November, Lake Varner stood at 691.7 feet full.