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Water officials say lack of rain getting a little serious

With concerns over the recent dry spell, Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority (NCWSA) Director, Mike Hopkins said an educational process will begin to let water customers know “we’re getting a little serious.”

Hopkins, Newton County Manager Lloyd Kerr, Water Resources Director James Johnson and representatives of other NCWSAS customers met Friday to discuss the recent drought. All representatives came in concerned, but calm, and agreed it was time to encourage water users to pay attention.

Hopkins said zero rainfall has been recorded at the NCWSA waste water plant in Porterdale in 30 days. With the lack of rain, unseasonably high temperatures and restriction on the ability to pump water from the Alcovy River, the main pool at Lake Varner — Newton County’s main water supply reservoir —is dropping.

On Friday, the pool was at 691 feet above sea level, nine feet below full pool. The last time the reservoir reached nine feet below full pool was 2011, according to Hopkins.

Hopkins said the NCWSA will begin sending out mailers, insert literature in bills, and have crews inform customers on the importance of conserving water.

“We prefer to educate not to enforce,” Hopkins said. “The next level would require some enforcements. We hope we don’t have to get to that.”

The county, which owns the water supply, and sells it to the NCWSA for distribution, would be responsible for placing restrictions on water use.

As of Friday, no restrictions were to be put in place but the water supply will be monitored throughout the next three weeks. The county, NCWSA and other water interests will reconvene again at that time and decide if next steps are necessary.

The last time water restrictions were mandated in Newton County was from the 2009-10 drought.

“Everybody is concerned and we want to make sure we are staying on top of it,” Hopkins said.