Prolonged dry weather has prompted an elevated drought response for northwest Georgia. Effective November 17, 2016, fifty-two counties have entered a drought response level 2 and fifty-eight counties are exercising a drought response level 1. Rainfall has been scarce since August and water conservation is the banner message. The Georgia Water Stewardship Act of 2010 establishes certain outdoor watering protocols to conserve water during times of drought. These rules apply to all properties served by state permitted water systems.
Highlights of Drought Response Level 1:
A drought response level 1 initiates a public information campaign to explain drought conditions and the need for water stewardship and conservation. Normal outdoor watering should follow best management practices and is allowed between the hours of 4:30pm and 10am any day of the week.
Highlights of Drought Response Level 2:
For existing landscapes, a drought response level 2 initiates the odd/even watering schedule by address for sprinkler systems. For even addresses (ending in zero, 2,4,6,8) watering is allowed as needed on Wednesdays and Saturdays between the hours of 4pm and 10am. For odd addresses (ending in 1,3,5,7,9) watering is allowed as needed on Thursdays and Sundays between the hours of 4pm and 10am. Sprinkler systems should always be properly maintained and adjusted. Evapotranspiration is much lower during the fall and winter and minimal irrigation is needed to prevent winter desiccation using a rate of 1/2 inch precipitation per week or less during periods of dry weather.
Under all levels of drought response, a 30 day exemption period is allowed for the establishment of new landscapes. Once the establishment period has expired, drought response watering practices should be followed accordingly.
Other Allowable Exemptions:
Handwatering using a hose with an automatic shut-off nozzle
Drip irrigation or soaker hoses
Horticulture crops intended for sale, resale, or installation
Athletic fields, golf courses, and public recreation areas
Maintenance or calibration of an irrigation system
Water from private wells and bodies of water on property (not exceeding state withdrawal limits)
Water from an alternate source (grey water, rain water, air-conditioner condensate)
Commercial Pressure Washing
Stay informed on the latest drought information for your area (see helpful resources and information below). While natural precipitation is generally sufficient to prevent plant desiccation in established landscapes during fall and winter, extremely dry conditions may require supplemental watering to help mitigate plant damage. Follow responsible watering practices and properly manage irrigation systems to protect plant health while promoting a culture of water conservation in Georgia. Register for training opportunities such as the upcoming “Irrigation Training for Landscape Professionals” at the EDGE Expo at the Gwinnett Infinite Energy Center on December 8, 2016.
For more information on proper watering practices and training opportunities, contact your local UGA Extension Agent or call 1-800-ASK-UGA1.