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Water restrictions eased in metro Atlanta, though dry conditions continue

lake lanier, sun

The water level in Lake Lanier rose about 4 feet in February due to rain and water conservation efforts, according to the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District. Credit: wikimedia.org

By David Pendered

The state has eased watering restriction in several counties in metro Atlanta. All types of outdoor water use is allowed, but landscapes can be watered only from 4 p.m. to 10 a.m., according to a new advisory from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

drought, march 2018

Dry and drought conditions have eased across portions of Georgia in 2018. Credit: droughtmonitor.unl.edu

“As expected, winter rains have refilled Lake Lanier, which serves as an important water supply for much of metro Atlanta,” Richard Dunn, director of the state Environmental Protection Division, said in a statement. “Drought-related restrictions were eased in other areas last fall, but the Level 1 Response was left in place to help the lake recover.”

The state’s action affects the counties of Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Habersham, Hall, Lumpkin, Paulding and White. The state shifted them from Level 1 Response to non-drought conditions.

The Level 1 response required public water systems that are permitted by the state to explain drought conditions to their customers and advise of the need to conserve water.

The Metropolitian North Georgia Water Planning District advised that Lake Lanier rose by about 4 feet in February. The increase was due to ongoing water conservation efforts as well as rain, according to the report, which advised residents to visit the mydropcounts website to learn more about conservation.

Dunn reminded that Lake Lanier’s water level is managed by the U.S. Corps of Engineers, which oversees the lake as a water reservoir and a source to maintain adequate water supplies along the Chattahoochee River basin.

drought 2018

Portions of Georgia started the new year of 2018 in conditions that were abnormally dry or moderate drought. Credit: droughtmonitor.unl.edu

“The Corps is conducting navigation water releases from Lake Seminole in southwest Georgia to support river traffic,” Dunn said. “Although drought conditions have abated and there is sufficient streamflow into Lanier, EPD will continue to monitor conditions for any impact from the downstream releases.”

Maps produced by the U.S. Drought Monitor show dry conditions have lessened in parts of Georgia this year.

Particularly in North Georgia, the sections of abnormally dry land have been reduced from most of the state north of Sandy Springs to just the far northwestern area of the state.

Still, the dry conditions that have gripped Georgia remain in place, according to the report released Tuesday by the U.S. Drought Monitor. The Georgia report observed:

  • “In southeastern Tennessee and adjacent Alabama and Georgia, drought was eliminated and D0 was retracted to areas south of the Tennessee border.
    lake lanier, sun

    The water level in Lake Lanier rose about 4 feet in February due to rain and water conservation efforts, according to the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District. Credit: wikimedia.org / PBT1981

  • “Moderate drought now covers two swaths, one across southern Alabama and central Georgia, and another from southeastern South Carolina southwestward through the eastern Florida Panhandle. Severe drought was introduced in interior southeastern Georgia due to a sharp decline in surface moisture of late.
  • “During the last 90 days, precipitation generally ranged from 3 to 6 inches below normal, with deficits approaching 8 inches in a few areas near the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, including the new D2 area in southeastern Georgia.”

Looking ahead to the coming week, the dought monitor predicts moderate to heavy rains of 2 inches or more in northern sections of Georgia and Alabama. Rainfall in contiguous areas is forecast at less than a few tenths of an inch.

David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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  1. LAWRENCE J FOGEL March 9, 2018 1:09 pm

    Has anyone been calculating the metro Atlanta’s ultimate carrying capacity for human settlement and industry? As far as I have read, our pecies has not come to terms with the limits of growth.Report

  2. LAWRENCE J FOGEL March 10, 2018 12:59 pm

    “Carrying capacity: is a bio-environmental concept that we learned in biology. A biosystem can only handle so much life, and that’s dependent on resources. With that said, it would be nice if Amazon could establish some corporate facility in Atlanta. Perhaps they can find inventive ways to stretch the region’s resources, or find new ones while improving the environment.Report

    1. Chris Johnston March 11, 2018 4:19 pm

      Please elaborate on “carrying capacity” while considering water supply to the population of the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas, indeed for most of California. The “carrying capacity” of these areas would be very small without the water distribution systems. And note that Californians don’t concern themselves with inter-basin transfers that some environmentalists use to fight the Atlanta area from seeking water supply from other sources.Report

      1. LAWRENCE J FOGEL March 11, 2018 4:36 pm

        California is way over the red line. It’s complicated and expensive system of water catchment is not truly sustainable. We are lucky that the snow pack in the Sierras provides the water the state needs as it melts and flows into catchments. True rainfall is not nearly enough. Plus, the huge ag industry is endlessly thirsty and taps into the deep aquifers which are in decline. Too many people and not enough sustainable natural resources nearly everywhere. A strong case for getting closer to global ZPG, zero population growth.Report

        1. Chris Johnston March 11, 2018 10:32 pm

          Why are you pushing ZPG because some locations are short of water supplies? Many locations have more water than they need – take Chattanooga for instance. The minimum daily flow through Chickamauga Dam in 8.4 billion gallons. At this time the daily flow is almost 6.5 times the minimum. The present daily usage of metro Atlanta is estimated at 560 million gallons and the 2050 usage is forecast to be 860-900 million gallons.Report


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