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Dry season could put reservoir at drought levels
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Randy Poynter reservoir at Black Shoals Park, October 2011 - photo by Bryan Fazio

Rockdale Water Resources officials are hoping for plentiful rains this winter to replenish the county’s reservoir levels, which are approaching drought-time lows. 

RWR Director Dwight Wicks said the water level is about 723 feet in elevation - about 12 feet below full pool and a foot above the 2007 drought level.

During 2007, the water level went down to 722 feet, but Rockdale still reportedly had an adequate supply of water.

“We feel that our supplies are adequate at the current time,” said Wicks. “We still have concern over how rapidly the water is being depleted. We’re only about a foot above where we were during the drought of 2007. We also don’t know how much volume we’ve lost due to silting and sedimentation at the mouth and throughout the reservoir.”

Wicks said, after meeting with RWR staff, the county will not be issuing a statement on water conservation actions but will monitor conditions.

Lee Pope, RWR Compliance and Technical Services Manager, said the levels are a little unusual, but then again, it’s normal for the reservoir to be low this time of year.

“We’re not in dire straights,” he said. “It’s designed to release during the summer months and refill during the winter months.”

Even if no additional water came in, the reservoir would supply nearly a year’s worth of water to the county without restrictions, said Pope.

The Randy Poynter reservoir holds around 7 billion gallons when it’s full at 735 feet in elevation. The county uses about 12 million gallons per day of drinking water.

The county, along with a wide swath of about 60 percent of Georgia, was listed in "extreme drought" condition as of Oct. 25, according to the US Drought Monitor map.

The county, which is part of the 15-county Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District during non-drought times, is working on a revised drought action plan to submit to the state.

The state's 2010 Water Stewardship Act required localities to readjust their water conservation plans. It restricts water use to watering for plants/agriculture from 4 p.m. - 7 p.m. and other outdoor water uses to Tuesdays, Thurdays, Sundays for odd-numbered addresses and Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays for even numbered and un-numbered addresses.

It also released counties from being lumped together for more severe water conservation actions and required each county to have its own action plan.

Most counties in the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District are connected to the Lake Lanier water basin while Rockdale is part of the Oclmulgee water basin.

Lake Lanier is also reaching drought-level lows. On Oct. 23, it stood at 1,059.96 feet, or 9 feet and a few inches above the historic low elevation of 1,050.79 feet on Dec. 26, 2007.