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Newton County no longer under drought-level water restrictions

Newton County is no longer under drought-level water restrictions after the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) announced it eased outdoor water use in 86 counties Monday.

Along with 30 other counties, Newton County, improved from a Level 2 Drought Response to a Level 1 Drought Response. Requirements under a Level 1 Drought Response include implementing a public information campaign on drought conditions.

Newton County, along with every other county in the state of Georgia, was placed under a Level 1 Drought Response in September (EPD). That response level was increased by the state agency to Level 2 in November after low levels of rain and a warmer-than typical summer left reservoirs throughout the state low.

At one point this fall, Lake Varner, in Newton County, was 11.6 feet below full-pool and did not get completely full again until Feb. 16.

While recent rain has brought much-needed water to reservoirs such as Lake Varner, bodies of water in the northern part of Georgia are still recovering, leaving 12 counties in Level 2 Drought Response.

“Winter rains have brought needed relief to much of the state, but Lake Lanier, the Chattahoochee River and smaller streams in the region have been slow to recover,” said EPD Director Richard Dunn.  “As a result, the Level 2 Drought Response will remain in place in the upper Chattahoochee River Basin, including most metropolitan Atlanta counties.”

The counties still under water restrictions are Cobb, Coweta, Dekalb, Douglas, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Habersham, Hall, Lumpkin, Paulding and White counties.

 “Lake Lanier is slow to refill, because it is a large reservoir fed by relatively small streams,” added EPD Director Dunn.  “In comparison, lakes West Point and Walter F. George downstream from Atlanta are smaller lakes located in larger drainage areas.”

During a Level 2 Drought Response, outdoor landscape watering is only allowed two days a week determined by odd and even-numbered addresses.  Even-numbered addresses and properties without numbered addresses may water on Wednesday and Saturday before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m.  Odd-numbered addresses may water Thursday and Sunday before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. 

     Prohibited outdoor water uses under a Level 2 Drought Response include:

  • Washing hard surfaces such as streets and sidewalks.
  • Water for ornamental purposes, such as fountains.
  • The use of fire hydrants, except for firefighting and public safety.
  • Non-commercial washing of vehicles.
  • Non-commercial pressure washing.
  • Fundraising car washes.

A total of 55 counties have been removed from the Levels 1 and 2 Drought Response in place since last November and designated non-drought.  Water systems in these counties are not responsible for any drought response actions, but must follow the non-drought schedule for landscape watering, which is after 4 p.m. and before 10 a.m. any day of the week. 

The 43 counties assigned a Level 1 Drought Response are Athens-Clarke, Banks, Barrow, Bartow, Butts, Carroll, Chattooga, Cherokee, Clayton, Dawson, Elbert, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Gordon, Greene, Haralson, Harris, Hart, Heard, Henry, Jackson, Jasper, Lamar, Madison, Meriwether, Monroe, Morgan, Newton, Oconee, Oglethorpe, Pickens, Pike, Putnam, Rockdale, Spalding, Stephens, Talbot, Taliaferro, Troup, Upson, Walton and Wilkes counties.