To learn more about the Georgia Water Stewardship Act, visit the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division.
Even though most outdoor watering restrictions have been lifted, experts say residents shouldn’t turn a blind eye to conservation.
As of June 2, the Georgia Water Stewardship Act allows residents to freely water their outdoor areas from 4 p.m. until 10 a.m. for the purposes of planting, growing, managing or maintaining property. Prior to that, residents had to follow a three-day-per-week watering schedule, based on their odd- or even-numbered address.
With the freedom to water daily, residents should still consider collecting rain water or look to other alternative water options, some say.
“By using rainwater or other alternatives, that’s less water that is being pulled from our drinking water supplies,” said Scarlett Fuller, city of Gainesville water conservation specialist.
“If more people used alternative sources instead of potential drinking water — which takes manpower and dollars to treat — it would take some of the strain off our supplies.”
Rain barrels — which come equipped with a spigot — can be used to collect precipitation and for regular, outdoor watering. Ready-made barrels can be purchased or residents can buy kits to make their own.
The city and Hall County Cooperative Extension recently hosted a series of rain barrel workshops, where participants learned how to create and use the devices effectively.
Although participation in the workshops decreased once the watering restrictions were loosened, Fuller said interest is still high.
“People are definitely still interested. They may not associate the rain barrels with the drought, but they do make the connection with thinking green,” Fuller said.
“A lot more people are becoming more environmentally conscious and want to be green. Re-using rainwater is just one way they can do that.”
Although some watering restrictions have been lifted, outdoor watering for non-plant related processes such as pressure washing is still limited to the odd-even schedules. Residents living in odd-numbered homes may do those activities on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. People in even-numbered residences may do that type of watering on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
The new water act also makes allowances for some uses, which may be done anytime. For instance, watering is unrestricted if the water is pulled from a private well or if it is being used to irrigate personal food gardens.
“Even with the unrestricted water, the (Environmental Protection Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources) still
encourages residents not to water during (middle of the day),” Fuller said.
“After 10 a.m. and before 4 p.m. is when you’ll lose a lot of water to evaporation.”