Relaxed watering restrictions have been a blessing for gardeners who, in summers past, have had to work around the county's watering bans to make sure their gardens prospered under the summer sun.
With the restrictions now being limited to odd-even addresses, but not specific times of the day, residents have liberty to water as often as they like on their given day. And with increased rainfall during the past weeks, gardeners haven't had to water as frequently.
"The relaxed watering restrictions help me save water," said Ginny Allen. "I can wait until evening to water on days when rain is predicted."
In 2004, county commissioners adopted an Outdoor Water Use Ordinance, which outlined when residents can water outdoors. Since that time, the county has been under some type of drought response level, ranging from no outdoor watering to limited outdoor watering.
Under last summer's watering ban, residents could water only from midnight to 10 a.m. on their designated days. No one could water on Mondays.
Allen said that under last summer's restrictions, she would water on Friday morning in the event that there was no rainfall before her next possible watering day -- Tuesday. Rainfall that might occur during the weekend was an added bonus.
Harlem resident Tom Blalock said the relaxed restrictions have meant that he's watered more this summer.
"I think the major change for me has been to use slightly more water," said Blalock. "Of course, the cost of the water keeps it somewhat in line anyway."
Blalock admitted that he errs on the side of overwatering because he knows his plants must be kept wet.
"I really believe that I would have a simpler job, using less time each day, and also less water, if there were no published restrictions," added Blalock.
Though the possibility of no published restrictions isn't likely to occur for some time, gardeners know that they get the most benefit from watering early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Water evaporates quickly during the heat of the day.
Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross, writing in the county's newsletter in August, addresses the water situation. As chairman of the Savannah-Upper Ogeechee Water Planning Council, Cross said the next two years will be spent determining "a water usage strategy for the entire state. The recent cycle of droughts has made everyone highly conscience of water value and consumption, and we all are aware that while we enjoy an abundant supply from the lake and river, all regions are not as fortunate. The question of 'water rights' looms large."
While the state seeks to define fair ways to share water in the state, Columbia County residents can do their part by being conscious of their watering habits. Simple measures can make a huge difference in water conservation -- something that will benefit all Georgians.
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