HCWA customers watering according to “pre-drought” conditions
(McDonough, GA – August 8, 2016) According to the Georgia Water Stewardship Act and the state’s Drought Management Rules, the Henry County Water Authority (HCWA) is following an outdoor water use schedule reflecting its current “pre-drought” conditions, which allows customers to use water outdoors daily between the hours of 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 a.m. No outdoor water use is allowed during the mid-day hours of 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Current outdoor water use by HCWA customers, which is subject to change depending on future drought conditions, should be for purposes of planting, growing, managing, or maintaining lawns and ground cover, trees, shrubs, or other plants.
There are exemptions to the current outdoor water use schedule that allow for daily watering. Some common exemptions include the watering of new landscape for a period of 30 days after planting, the irrigation of personal food gardens, and hand watering or watering via drip irrigation or soaker hoses.
The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) is monitoring a set of drought indicators, and the regulatory agency will notify affected public water systems prior to future, more stringent drought declarations. However, Georgia EPD has not declared a drought at this time.
If the Georgia EPD Director declares a drought in the future, the state regulatory agency will notify water systems as to what level of watering restrictions will be put in place. Tiered response actions escalate for local water systems such as HCWA according to the respective levels of drought management, with Level 1 including public outreach and information; Level 2 entailing an odd/even watering schedule, among other requirements; and Level 3 featuring a complete ban on outdoor watering, with a few exemptions.
While the HCWA and its customers are not operating under drought restrictions currently, the Authority has the discretion to implement more stringent levels of outdoor water use, if needed. The Authority also can petition Georgia EPD if it feels less stringent watering restrictions are more appropriate because of its substantial water supply.
The Authority owns and operates five reservoirs within its water supply network, with more than 18 billion gallons of raw water available for drinking water production. In addition, the HCWA has a combined 37 million gallons per day (MGD) of drinking water production capacity via its Tussahaw and Towaliga Water Treatment Plants. The Authority also has 14 storage tanks with 29 million gallons of finished drinking water for distribution.
Public water systems such as the HCWA are required to alert EPD officials if a trigger level in its drought management contingency plan is surpassed during pre-drought conditions. This is not likely within Henry County, however, because the Authority benefits from one of the healthiest water supplies and treatment systems in the state, says Lindy Farmer, HCWA General Manager, thanks to proper long-term planning and infrastructure investments by the HCWA’s leadership.
The HCWA follows the state’s guidelines and Drought Management Rules because it is a public water system permitted by Georgia EPD, in addition to being located within the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District, which encourages water conservation among communities of the Atlanta Region.
More information and a complete guide to outdoor watering is available on the Authority’s website at http://www.hcwa.com/Outdoor-water-use. Tips on wise water use also are available on the Authority’s website at http://www.hcwsa.com/water-conservation.
Chris Wood, Ph.D.