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Gainesville meets water use goal for December
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GAINESVILLE -- There is less talk of the drought these days, but people in Gainesville and Hall County still are conserving water.

Georgia's Environmental Protection Division has yet to review and release the official numbers. But statistics from the city's Public Utilities Department show Gainesville met and actually did better than a state-mandated reduction in water use last month.

The public utilities department's records show that the department, which serves Gainesville and Hall County, pumped an average of 15.22 million gallons of water to its customers per day in December.

In late October, Georgia's Environmental Protection Division announced that water withdrawal permit-holders in 61 North Georgia counties would have to reduce water use by 10 percent. The 10 percent reduction was based on each permit-holder's average daily water use during the winter months. The Gainesville utility had to reduce its withdrawals to 15.77 million gallons per day under the governor's order.

In November, the first month of the required reductions, Gainesville did not meet the target, and pumped an average of 15.89 million gallons per day. But the missed target did not result in severe punishment by the EPD. The city utility did have to explain why it did not meet the reduction after the EPD sent a request for information.

"We just want to know what the problem was," said Kevin Chambers, an EPD spokesperson.

One problem for the Gainesville utility was a miscalculation of the correct reduction target. Randall had previously thought the goal was 15.82 million gallons per day. Still, Chambers said the Gainesville utility only missed its mark by "a hair" in November.

"There were lots of questions the first month," Chambers said. "We kind of expected that."

The utility pumped 2.25 million gallons of water less per day last month than it pumped in December 2006.