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Despite rain, county still in a severe drought
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While Newton County is still in a severe drought, last week's rain has helped to raise water levels at the county's reservoirs.

According to Newton County Water Resources Director Karl Kelley, recent rains have raised the water levels approximately 7.2 inches at both reservoirs since last week.

"The water levels have gone up dramatically," Kelley said. "I believe we're making some progress. The flow of the Alcovy River is dramatically higher than it has been."

Recent rains have greatly increased the flow of the Alcovy River - which feeds into the City Pond reservoir - according to Kelley, increasing its water flow 213 cubic feet per second.

However Kelly hastened to add that Lake Varner reservoir levels are still below the first trigger level of 696 feet above sea level, meaning that the reservoir is less than 70 percent full. Full pool level at Lake Varner is 701 feet.

Kelley added that it is normal for lake levels to drop during the June to October period before beginning to refill in November.

"If the flow stays up above the low flow conditions that we had three to four weeks ago, we should be able to replenish the lakes fairly well," Kelley said.

 "The rain has really helped us a lot; it hasn't alleviated the drought conditions by any means, but it has certainly stabilized the conditions of the lake."

Water restrictions continue to remain in place for the time being. All outdoor watering is limited to the following schedule: Odd numbered addresses may only water their lawns between the hours of midnight and 10 a.m. on Tuesdays. Even numbered addresses may only water their lawns between the hours of midnight and 10 a.m. on Thursdays. Outdoor water use is prohibited on all other dates and times.

According to the University of Georgia's College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Georgia Palmer Value Map, it will take approximately 13.07 inches of rain to bring Newton County out of the drought.