Columbia County residents will see a change in outdoor watering restrictions by the first of next year.
"Customers can water any day they choose to, but they cannot water between the hours of 10 in the morning and 4 o'clock in the afternoon," said Billy Clayton, the county's Water Utilities director.
This will replace the county's current odd-even schedule, which has been in place for about eight years, Clayton said.
After passage of Senate Bill 370 earlier this year, all counties in Georgia must adhere to new water-conservation efforts.
The item was recently discussed at a county Public Works Committee and will go before commissioners Tuesday and again in December.
"This is something we had to adopt because it is state law," said commission Chairman Ron Cross. "We're looking to see if we can still maintain the alternating-day water plan that we already have in place."
In order to pass stricter conservation measures, a county must prove to the state Environmental Protection Division that there is a need to do so, Clayton said.
Cross is chairman of the Savannah-Upper Ogeechee Water Planning Council, a group tasked with determining a water-use strategy for Georgia.
"We've just got to get accustomed to using less water than we do," Cross said.
Cross pointed out that water consumption nearly doubles in Columbia County during the summer.
"We'll rock along between 12 and 16 million gallons a day consistently, and then it'll jump to 30 to 32 million (gallons) during the summer," he said. "If we could work on conservation and cut down that peak use during the hottest months, then we could go a long way on offsetting some of these drought conditions."
The new water-conservation plan, which will be enforced starting Jan. 1, is different from prior ones in that it's not correlated with drought conditions, Clayton said.
Unless a drought in the area calls for more stringent conservation measures in the future, residents should expect to follow the new requirements, Clayton said.
Clayton also noted that most people won't realize the changes are in effect until they start watering their lawns again in the spring.
"We'll probably put out some reminders come March and April," he said.
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