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'Extreme drought' conditions return to Northeast Georgia
EPD urges Georgians to keep conserving water
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Well, the reprieve didn’t last long. State climatologist David Stooksbury said Wednesday that most of Northeast Georgia, including Gainesville, is back in an extreme drought.

Winter and spring rains had allowed much of Georgia to move into the severe or even moderate categories of drought. But June has been unusually dry, pushing Northeast Georgia back into the extreme level, which on average occurs only once every 50 years.

At a joint news conference with Stooksbury, Georgia Environmental Protection Division Director Carol Couch said that Georgians should continue to practice water conservation.

"While we have been able to allow limited outdoor water use in some areas, it should not be seen as a signal the drought is over," she said.

Despite the worsening level of drought, Couch did not announce any new watering restrictions on Wednesday. However, she said stricter water use schedules will be implemented whenever environmental officials believe they are warranted.

Stooksbury said soil moisture levels in Hall are at or below the 5th percentile, which means that in 95 out of 100 years, the soil in late June is wetter than it is right now.

He added that stream flows in many Georgia rivers, including the Chattahoochee River at its Cornelia gauge, are at or near record lows.

Stooksbury said the current river flows normally aren’t seen until September or October.