Hall County — and most of Georgia, for that matter — is no longer in drought, or even abnormally dry.
Recent rains have eased dry conditions through most of the state, so much so that the Georgia Environmental Protection Division has ended its Level 1 drought response in 103 counties.
Only a few counties in extreme southwest Georgia, or near the Florida line, are considered abnormally dry, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which releases an updated report every Thursday.
The state’s decision means that almost all Georgians will return to a non-drought outdoor water use schedule.
“Rain continues to ease the flash drought conditions in Georgia that had peaked during the first half of October,” said state climatologist Bill Murphey in a news release on Friday, Dec. 27. “The heaviest rain amounts have fallen over extreme North Georgia, central Georgia and southeastern parts of the state. As a result, soil moisture and stream flows are improving in those areas.”
To determine the proper level of drought response, the EPD considers several factors, including precipitation, stream flows, groundwater, reservoir levels, short-term climate predictions and soil moisture. The EPD monitors and produces publicly available reports on these conditions on a monthly basis.
The Level 1 drought response required public water utilities “to conduct a public information campaign to help citizens better understand drought, its impact on water supplies and the need for water conservation,” the news release states.
“We encourage wise and efficient use of water,” said Linda MacGregor, Gainesville’s water resources director, when the Level 1 response was started in October.
She added at the time that the city has “ongoing public education efforts on water conservation.”
In an interview earlier this month, MacGregor said she still is keeping an eye on conditions.
“The lake is still not full,” MacGregor said. “So far, so good (in December), and if the (winter months) are wet, then we’ll be in pretty good shape.”
Lake Lanier’s winter full pool is 1,070 feet above sea level. Its summer full pool is 1,071 feet. The lake stood at 1,068.54 feet Friday morning, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
As far as the forecast, more wet weather may come to Hall County this week. The National Weather Service is predicting showers Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 28-29.