Georgia EPD Declares Level 1 Drought Response, Calls For Water Conservation

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, https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/CurrentMap/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?GA the 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:

  • Irrigation of personal food gardens may be done at any time of day;
  • Irrigation of new and replanted plant, seed, or turf may be done at any time of day for 30 days after installation;
  • Drip irrigation or irrigation using soaker hoses may be done at any time of day; and
  • Hand watering with a hose with automatic cutoff or handheld container may be done at any time of day.

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.

Public Community Meeting Regarding Wastewater System Master Plan

The City will host a public forum on the Master Plan of improvements for the Wastewater system Monday, October 7, 2019 at the Community Room from 4 pm to 7 pm.  Infrastructure condition has long been a concern of our residents and businesses and affects the long-term economic vitality of the City. A master plan of needed improvements was completed, and is available online at https://socialcirclega.gov/documents/sewerage-system-master-plan/ for review.  Anyone who would like information on this plan, to view the projects recommended in the plan and their cost and anticipated timing, and ask questions of the engineers is welcome to attend this forum. Participants may drop in at any time during the forum, it will be informal with displays and opportunity for one on one discussions.

Public Community Meeting Regarding Water System Master Plan

The City will host a public forum on the Master Plan of improvements for the water system Thursday, October 3, 2019 at the Community Room from 5 pm to 7 pm.  Infrastructure condition has long been a concern of our residents and businesses and affects the long-term economic vitality of the City. A master plan of needed improvements was completed and is available online at https://socialcirclega.gov/documents/water-master-plan/ for review.  Anyone who would like information on this plan, to view the projects recommended in the plan and their cost and anticipated timing and ask questions of the engineers is welcome to attend this forum.  Participants may drop in at any time during the forum, it will be informal with displays and opportunity for one on one discussions.

Technicians Flushing Hydrants Around the City

You may see technicians in different parts of the city this week flushing hydrants as part of their normal periodic maintenance of the water distribution system.  This will improve taste and odor throughout the system.  If you notice that your water has a slight tint to it, this is temporary  and will clear up.  Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.

Fire Hydrant Testing Next Week

As a part of the final steps of the water system upgrades along Cherokee Road and Hightower Trail, the Fire Department will be testing the new fire hydrants that were installed. They will test the first part of the week, June 10-12. This may cause cloudy water in the area. If you do have cloudy water, allow the water to run for a while and it will clear up.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Barry Parsons, Public Works Director, bparsons@socialcirclega.com, 770-464-6912.

Water Quality Test Not City Sponsored

An example of water sample kit that have been left at houses around town.

An example of water sample kit that have been left at houses around town.

Many residents have reported receiving a bottle and flyer asking for a water sample for a complimentary water quality test. Please be advised this is a private commercial advertisement – not City sponsored nor City recommended.

Official water tests can be conducted by City of Social Circle licensed water personnel or State of Georgia Environmental Protection Division only. A citizen can hire anyone they wish to test that citizen’s water at their expense.

The City water is tested regularly and fully compliant with Clean Drinking Water regulations.  Citizens may obtain information about our drinking water from the CCR.

2017 Water Quality Report

For further information about your drinking water feel free to contact Public Works Director, Barry Parsons at bparsons@socialcirclega.com or 770-464-6912 or the Georgia EPD at 1-888-373-5947 toll-free in Georgia
404-657-5947 in the Atlanta area or askepd@gaepd.org.

Water System Upgrade Update

Men WorkingOn Monday, June 3 from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm crews will be connecting the new water lines to the existing water lines at Dogwood Drive and E Hightower Trail. Water will be off along Dogwood Drive from Holly Street, to Sycamore Street and along Holly Street and E Hightower Trail.

When the water is turned back on, it may be cloudy. It should clear up after you run it for a while.

Water System Improvements Update

Men WorkingA bit of good news: The water system upgrades are almost completed! There are just a few more things to take care of.

Friday, May 24 – Crews will be tying in the water lines on N Forrest Ave starting about 9:00 am. The water should be off on N Forrest for about two hours. After the water is restored, there could be cloudy water. Let the water run for a while to clear it up.

Tuesday, May 28 – Crews will be tying in the water lines on E Hightower Tr at the bridge starting about 9:00 am. The water should be off for about four hours in the area between Oak Dr and E Hightower Trail and along Sycamore Ave. After the water is restored, there could be cloudy water. Let the water run for a while to clear it up.

Once the tie-ins are complete, the roads that have been torn up by the construction will be repaired. Please plan for extra time when you are traveling in the area to allow for lane closures. Also use caution for your safety and the safety of the workers.

The entire water system upgrade project should be completed by the end of the week.