Restrictions on outdoor watering similar to those already imposed on Columbia County residents will go into effect statewide next month.
Greg Poteet, owner of EnviroSource, installs a drip irrigation system in a yard in West Lake. Such a system could help residents since the state is implementing mandatory watering restrictions.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
The mandatory outdoor watering guidelines, lifted after last year's rainy spring and summer, were again imposed last week by the board of the Department of Natural Resources, said Kevin Chambers, the EPD's communications director.
"The drought ended in late '02 and early '03 and we realized that we needed to do something pro-active to manage our water resources," Chambers said.
The guidelines, which will become mandatory for all Georgia residents, include odd/even watering days.
Columbia County Water and Sewer Director Billy Clayton agrees that conservation is the best plan. Water usage has jumped dramatically in the last few weeks.
"Right now we are seeing times of day when we are pumping out all we can pump," Clayton said.
The county's water system is capable of pumping 39 millions gallons a day, which is has been at peak times of the morning and evening, Clayton said. Midday and nighttime lulls in usage bring the daily average to 32 million gallons of water used a day, Clayton said.
The Evans area is already 5.58-inches below the normal 17.32-inches of rainfall this time of year, according to www.augustaweather.com.
Chambers said the water management plan guidelines were formed as pre-drought measures instead of the need for water conservation driven by drought.
Clayton agrees with the need to conserve before a shortage and suggests abiding by the county's current guidelines which provides that residents with even-numbered address water outdoors on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Residents with odd-numbered address are permitted to water on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. No outdoor watering is allowed on Monday, giving the water department time to recuperate from heavy weekend usage, Clayton said.
Greg Poteet, co-owner of EnvriSource, an Augusta irrigation and landscape company, suggests other ways to conserve water including drip irrigation systems instead of tradition sprinklers systems.
"A drip system is great," said Poteet, whose company often revamps tradition systems into more efficient drip systems. "You directly water each individual plant and you are not watering areas that just don't need it.
Drip systems are a thing that is kind of coming into fashion. You are probably cut your zone time, the amount of volume of water that you use probably by 60 percent, getting the same amount of water per plant. (The rest) is just wasted water."
Clayton agrees and also suggests using soaker hoses. To prevent losing large amounts of water to evaporation, he also recommends not watering during the hottest part of the day and on windy days.
It is healthy for lawns to stress a little between waterings because it encourages deep strong root growth, Clayton added.
"My priority says that I am going to ensure domestic water supply," Clayton said. "I am going to keep enough water on hand for fire protection. Any water I've got left after is welcome to be used for irrigation. If something is going to suffer, it is going to be the irrigation.
"We really do have enough water. Nothing should die. It is just letting everybody have a turn at it."
The state mandated guidelines will go into effect by mid-June and Clayton said he will spread the word to residents of any changes.
"In the end, if these (statewide guidelines) are going to be the way it is going to be, then we might as well do the way the rest of the state does," Clayton said. "I don't want to be different from the rest of the state. If this is going to be just the way life is, I certainly would want the Board (of Commissioners) to consider just doing what the state does, even though we are totally accustomed to the way we do things here."
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