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Lumpkin talks about drought
Conversation addresses fears, discusses restructuring rates
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DAHLONEGA — During a community open house on Tuesday afternoon, Larry Krull voiced a question that has been on everyone’s mind.

"When’s it going to rain again?"

Krull and his wife, Dottie, moved into their home in Lumpkin County last December. The house was seeded for grass, but it all died. The Krulls are on a county-operated well system. So far they haven’t had any indication of it going dry.

However, Dottie Krull said, "We’re worried about the future."

As are many who live in the state of Georgia and other parts of the Southeast, where some regions are experiencing the worst drought in 100 years.

In an effort to inform the community and discuss possible solutions to the water issue, the city of Dahlonega and the Lumpkin County Water & Sewerage Authority collaborated to hold a "Drought Dialogue with the Community."

From 3 to 7 p.m. residents dropped by the Lumpkin County Parks and Recreation Community Center to discuss their concerns and offer suggestions for how to help conserve water.

The Krulls haven’t washed their cars since stricter outdoor watering bans were imposed, and most of their appliances are water efficient since their house is new.

When washing dishes or brushing her teeth, Dottie Krull turns the water off when she doesn’t need it.

"I tend to turn the water off and on a lot more instead of just letting it run," she said.

The city of Dahlonega has also taken several steps to help conserve water.

"We’ve been discussing the drought situation long before the level 4 water restrictions were imposed and the governor’s 10 percent reduction came out," Dahlonega City Manager Bill Lewis said.

Lewis said the city has looked enhancing public education on water conservation, reviewing building codes to make sure they’re up to date and starting consumption audits for businesses and customers who think their bills may be too high.

The city also wants to start recognizing "water misers," Lewis said of people or industries that do an exceptional job of conserving on a regular basis.

"We’re also encouraging green building design," he said.

Some people in Lumpkin County have been putting large tanks in the ground to collect water from the roof and then using them to water their flowers and gardens.

Dahlonega Engineer Ricky Stewart said officials are considering a tiered structure rate, which could increase the rate of water per gallon once a customer goes over a certain amount of water.

Two years ago the city replaced all of its water meters, which Stewart said are 95 percent accurate and are guaranteed to be that way for 10 to 15 years.

Dudley Owens, director of the water and sewerage authority, said they are monitoring monthly water consumption "more than ever."

He said the county has already seen a reduction in water usage since a total outdoor watering ban was implemented, and that very few wells have gone dry.

Still, "The Lord just needs to let it rain," he said.

Many residents have expressed concern over the levels of Dahlonega’s Yahoola Creek Reservoir, which is currently 11 feet below full pool.

John Jarrard, water supervisor for the city of Dahlonega, said while the drought is a serious situation and residents need to conserve water as much as they can, "We’re still meeting all our water demands."

Barring future droughts, Jarrard said the reservoir will be able to supply customers with water for another 35 years.

"We’re kind of surrounded here with a lot of forestry land, so we don’t have the population that a lot of areas have," he said. "We’re kind of lucky in that sense."

Larry Krull said he thinks that local and state governments have done everything they are supposed to in coping with the drought.

"In a lot of ways the drought is bad for us, but it’s good for us too," he said. "It’s a wake-up call for us to be better stewards of what we have."

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