The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) is closely monitoring drought conditions in Georgia. On Tuesday, October 15, EPD held conference calls for 365 public water systems to discuss current water supply and determine whether to issue a Level 1 drought response in designated counties across the state.
Under state law and rules, EPD determines whether specific environmental conditions warrant a drought response declaration based upon the severity of drought conditions and their impact on the ability of public water systems to provide adequate supplies of water within the affected drought areas and avoid or relieve local water shortages. One tool used to monitor and inform drought conditions is the U.S. Drought Monitor, issued weekly by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Other factors affecting water supply include precipitation, stream flows, groundwater, reservoir levels, short-term climate predictions and soil moisture. EPD monitors and produces publicly available reports on these conditions on a monthly basis.
Following the conference calls, the public water systems have three days to submit any additional feedback. If sufficient evidence exists, EPD is authorized to deploy a tiered drought response system in affected geographic areas, starting with a Level 1 response for designated public water systems. These systems must implement a public information campaign including, at a minimum, notice regarding drought conditions and drought-specific announcements in newspaper or online ads, bill inserts, social media, and notices in public libraries. This tiered system is designed to help citizens better understand drought, its impact on water supplies, and the need for water conservation.
A Level 2 drought response triggers outdoor water use restrictions. Public water systems may not impose restrictions on outdoor watering that are different from state requirements unless they obtain a variance from EPD. Currently, the City of Griffin and Coweta County have received variances for a Level 2 response, which restricts outdoor watering to two days a week.
EPD maintains a web page to keep the public informed regarding drought indicators, current variances, and EPD actions regarding drought: https://epd.georgia.gov/about-us/watershed-protection-branch/drought-management. Water Conservation information is available at https://epd.georgia.gov/watershed-protection-branch/water-conservation.
The Water Stewardship Act of 2010 remains in place across Georgia. State law allows for outdoor water use between the hours of 4 PM and 10 A.M.
The statutory authority and framework for the EPD Drought Response is found at OCGA 12-5-7 and 12-5-8 and Chapter 391-3-30 Rules for Drought Management.
News Media Contact: Kevin Chambers (404) 651-7970