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Steps being taken for water conservation
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Water resources from around the entire state are suffering, according to James Brown, Newton County water resources director.

Brown participated in a conference call with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) Wednesday, in which different agencies shared data on the state’s current rain shortfall. All agencies are experiencing low pools in their reservoirs with little sign of rain on the wall.

“We are keeping close monitor with the state and the reservoirs that we have here to make sure we’re doing our best, and come up with the most efficient ways to save as much water as we can” Brown said.

Water Conservation Tips

Newton County Water Resources is issuing the following tips in order to conserve water as rainfall continues to elude the area:

Fix leaks immediately. Regularly check for leaks inside and outside the home.

Don’t leave the tap running. When shaving, brushing teeth, washing your ace, or food, turn off the tap.

Check your toilet for leaks. Put food color in the toilet tank and wait 10 minutes. If it seeps into your toilet bowl, a leak is present.

Use the dishwasher and washing machine only when full.

Replace older toilets and shower heads with high efficiency models. Homes built before 1993 may qualify for a toilet rebate.

Choose efficient appliances. Look for EPA Water Sense and ENERGY STAR labeled products when shopping for new appliances and fixtures. These products have been independently tested and verified to save at least 20 percent more water compared to conventional products.

Scrape dishes before washing them. Avoid using the garbage disposal.  It wastes a lot of water and can contribute to pipe clogs.

Only water plants when necessary. Use a rain gauge and water no more than one inch per week. Water between the hours of 4 p.m. and 10 a.m.

Reduce the amount of lawn and landscape with plants or plants well adapted to this region.

Adjust sprinklers so only the lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk or street.

Drought Response Levels

In the event of drought circumstances, the state has a three-tier drought contingency plan with different response levels. Currently level one has been implemented, and level two responses are being worked on by water permitting agencies throughout the state, according to Brown.

The state’s drought contingency plan is:

Drought Response Level 1 – Launce public information campaigns be implemented, including public notice regarding drought conditions, and drought specific public-service messages

Drought Response Level 2 – Limit general outdoor watering, including  for planting, growing, managing or maintaining ground cover, trees, shrubs or other plants to two days a week on an odd-even schedule between the hours of 4 p.m. and 10 a.m.

Also, the following is prohibited:

  • washing hard surfaces such as streets, gutters, sidewalks and driveways, except when necessary for public health and safety;
  • using water for ornamental purposes such as fountains, reflecting pools and waterfalls;
  • use of fire hydrants, except for the purposes of firefighting, public health, safety or flushing;
  • washing vehicles;
  • non-commercial washing, or pressure washing, of buildings or structures;
  • charity, or non-commercial fund-raiser, car washes.

Drought Response Level 3 – General outdoor watering not permitted and only the following categories of outdoor water use allowed:

  • watering for personal food gardens between the hours of 4 p.m. and 10 a.m., unless done with soaker hoses;
  • hand-watering with a hose between the hours of 4 p.m. and 10 a.m.;
  • irrigation of athletic fields or public turf grass recreational areas between the hours of 4 p.m. and 10 a.m.;
  • irrigation of golf courses between the hour of 4 p.m. and 10 a.m.;
  • use of reclaimed waste water by a designated user;
  • installation, maintenance or calibration of irrigation system is allowed provided it is done by professional landscapers or golf court superintendents.

The state of Georgia will determine when enacting the different drought response levels are required.

Brown said he doesn’t know when or if an escalation in levels is necessary, but it is being discussed at the state level, who is assessing information from each water provider.

“Hopefully by the next few weeks we’ll be getting data back,” Brown said.