0207waterCouchHear EPD director Carol Couch give her predictions for the next few months on Lake Lanier.
0207WaterPerdueHear Gov. Sonny Perdue speak about the impact of drought restrictions on businesses.
Also on Wednesday, Perdue announced that the current moratorium on the filling of swimming pools, banned under the outdoor watering restrictions, will be eased. The state will allow limited filling of pools.
The news on pools was welcomed by Melvin Cooper, director of the Gainesville Parks and Recreation agency.
"We were at the point where we needed to make a decision about Green Street Pool," Cooper said. "This is really good news, and we will start right away getting the pool ready to open this summer."
At the same time, the agency is preparing for the July opening of the Frances Meadows aquatic center in the New Holland area.
Perdue announced the news for the nursery and landscaping industries at a breakfast meeting of the Georgia Agribusiness Council.
"This industry (landscaping) did more than its share," Perdue said. "It bore a lot of the brunt of the conservation measures last fall. They can do that temporarily, but it’s wrong to put most of that burden on one industry."
At the same time, Perdue said he is going to allow hand-watering for up to 25 minutes per day on an odd-even basis for plants and gardens. The outdoor watering restrictions were first implemented in September.
Use of sprinklers and sprinkler systems still will continue to be prohibited, except in the case of new professional installations.
"Georgians have demonstrated their dedication to a culture of conservation," Perdue said. "It is important to continue to encourage conservation with the 10 percent reduction, which I believe we can achieve while also supporting industries that are so essential to our state."
The governor said the state will continue the 10 percent monthly reduction based on an average of the usage during April through September, 2007.
The specifics announced by Perdue:
Hand watering will be allowed for 25 minutes per day on an odd-even schedule between midnight and 10 a.m. Odd numbered addresses can water on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. Even numbered addresses can water Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. Hand watering is defined as one person with one garden hose with a spray nozzle that shuts off when it is released.
New professionally installed landscapes can be watered up to three days a week from midnight to 10 a.m. for a period of 10 weeks based on the odd/even schedule. The new schedule will help ensure the survival of new landscape without requiring more water than what is being used under the current 30-day exemption.
Anyone wishing to water new professionally installed landscape must register with the Outdoor Water Use Registration Program. The program will be hosted on the Urban Agricultural Council Web site at www.urbanagcouncil.com beginning April 1, when the outdoor watering exemptions take effect. Georgians may also contact their county extension agents for assistance in getting registered.
Scott Angle, dean of the University of Georgia College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, said Perdue’s action was both timely and needed.
"It’s a critical time right now," Angle said. "If this announcement had been made two or three weeks later, it may have been too late. We’re going into the spring planting season and nurseries are beginning to order plants."
Angle said the state has lost a considerable portion of the nursery and landscaping industry as a result of the drought.
"If they had gone through another spring season, which is Christmastime to the nursery industry, with no sales, another large segment would be out of business," he said.
Angle said the governor’s action will help an industry that is "on the ropes."
Georgia is suffering through the worst drought in its history, and Lake Lanier, a primary water source for Hall County, Atlanta and many other areas, has taken a serious hit. Recent rains have kept the lake from dropping any further, but the lake is far from full.
Carol Couch, director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, told members of the House Natural Resources Committee that with normal rainfall, it could take four years for Lanier to return to full pool.
Though the lake is 20 feet below its normal full pool of 1,071 feet above sea level, it held steady at about 1,051 feet throughout January. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects that it will remain at 1,051 at least through the end of February, if current weather patterns persist.