Walker County drought level is currently at 0.
Drought is a hazard of nature. We can’t see it ignite, like a fire, or predict where it is likely to touch down, as we do a tornado. Like its natural hazard cousins, however, drought can leave a trail of destruction that may even include loss of life.
And while we might refer to a fire’s crackle or the roar of a tornado, a drought hazard does not announce its arrival. In fact, those familiar with drought call it a “creeping phenomenon,” because what may first appear to be merely a dry spell can only be discerned in hindsight as the early days of a drought.
Drought’s stealthy reputation is also based on the way its effects vary from region to region. A week without rain might be considered a drought in a tropical climate like Bali, while a gap of only seven days between rains might be unusual in Libya, a desert area where annual rainfall is less than seven inches(180 millimeters). Drought can even co-exist with record rainfall!
In the most general sense, drought is defined as a deficiency of precipitation over an extended period of time(usually a season or more), resulting in a water shortage. The effects of this deficiency are often called drought impacts. Natural impacts of drought can be made even worse by the demand that humans place on a water supply.
Worsening drought conditions throughout most of the state have prompted a Level 1 Drought Response declaration from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD). This means public water utilities in 103 counties will be required to begin a public information campaign to help citizens better understand drought, its impact on water supplies and the need for water conservation.
According to the federal government’s U.S. Drought Monitor, drought has affected the entire state with conditions ranging from abnormally dry to extreme drought. As a result, most of the counties in Georgia must follow the Level 1 Drought Response requirements.
“This serves as a reminder for all Georgians to use water wisely,” said EPD Director Richard Dunn. “It also gives public water systems an opportunity to educate their customers on the importance of water conservation.”
To determine the appropriate level of drought response, EPD considers several factors including 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.
“The current flash drought we are in is primarily agricultural, but it can also affect water supply,” said state climatologist Bill Murphey. “It came on quickly due to the intense daytime heating, lack of rainfall and sudden decrease in soil moisture we experienced in September.”
The public information campaign under a Level 1 Drought Response requires water utilities to circulate drought and water conservation information in one or more of the following: newspaper advertisements, water bill inserts, website homepages, social media and notices posted in public libraries.
The public information campaign will be required in the following counties: Appling, Athens-Clarke, Bacon, Baldwin, Banks, Barrow, Bartow, Bibb, Bleckley, Brooks, Bryan, Bulloch, Burke, Butts, Carroll, Charlton, Chatham, Cherokee, Clayton, Clinch, Cobb, Coweta, Crawford, Crisp, Dawson, Decatur, Dekalb, Dooly, Douglas, Echols, Effingham, Fannin, Fayette, Forsyth, Franklin, Fulton, Gilmer, Gordon, Grady, Greene, Gwinnett, Habersham, Hall, Hancock, Haralson, Harris, Heard, Henry, Houston, Jackson, Jasper, Jenkins, Johnson, Jones, Lamar, Laurens, Lee, Liberty, Long, Lowndes, Lumpkin, Macon, Marion, McIntosh, Meriwether, Monroe, Morgan, Murray, Newton, Oconee, Paulding, Peach, Pickens, Pierce, Pike, Polk, Pulaski, Putnam, Rabun, Rockdale, Schley, Screven, Seminole, Spalding, Stephens, Sumter, Talbot, Taylor, Thomas, Tift, Towns, Troop, Turner, Twiggs, Union, Upson, Walton, Ware, Washington, Wayne, White, Wilkinson and Worth counties.
In addition, the outdoor water use schedule required under the Water Stewardship Act of 2010 remains in place. It limits outdoor water use year-round to the hours between 4 p.m. and 10 a.m. There are several exceptions to this limitation listed at https://epd.georgia.gov/watershed-protection-branch/water-conservation.
For example, the following activities may be done at any time of day under a Level 1 Drought Response:
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.
Walker County Water & Sewerage Authority
Walker County Water & Sewerage Authority 4665 Happy Valley Rd. P.O. Box 248 Flintstone, GA 30725
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