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County's drought status slightly downgraded
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Despite the continuation of drought conditions, relative to last summer, the county's water resources are not in bad shape, thanks largely in part to the conservation measures that have been in place for the greater part of the last year.

In a presentation to the Newton County Board of Commissioners at their Tuesday meeting, Karl Kelley, director of the Newton County Water Resources Department said that the county currently had 2.9 billion gallons of drinking water, up from 2.6 billion gallons at this time last year.

Conversely water production has fallen, from 13.94 million gallons a day in August last year, to 11.45 MGD today.

Lake Varner stands at 696.8 feet full, down 4.6 feet from fool pool level. At this time last year it was 695.8 feet full.

"That's really the result of conservation efforts by citizens," Kelley said.

At its lowest point during the drought, the Friday after Thanksgiving last year, Lake Varner was 6.5 feet below full pool level. So far this year, the county has pumped 300 million gallons into Lake Varner.

The county has been downgraded from being in an "extreme" drought to a "severe" drought.

"I think we're a little better off than we were last year. It does not mean we are out of the woods yet," Kelley told the council.