Tired of those confusing, odd-even watering schedules? Can't remember which day you're supposed to switch on the sprinklers or wash the car?
You're in luck! The state of Georgia has come to the rescue. As of Jan. 1, no more water-conservation worries for you! Just crank up those sprinklers, pull out those hoses and flood the yard any day you want.
Just don't do it between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Other than that, it's water, water everywhere.
This absurdity is brought to you by the Georgia Legislature - which, believe it or not, is run by Republicans. You remember them: That's the party that is supposed to be in favor of smaller, decentralized government, with more control in the hands of local leaders.
With the passage of Senate Bill 370, however, state lawmakers have wiped out all local control on water conservation, replacing it with a one-size-fits-all edict from Atlanta.
Columbia County and other communities had long been managing their water supplies through various conservation measures, most notably the odd-even restrictions that in essence cut in half the number of homes and businesses watering on any given day. Monday was off-limits to allow storage tanks to refill after expected heavy use on weekends.
SB 370, however, requires every city and county to enforce the same restrictions, and Columbia County and the cities of Harlem and Grovetown all are now scrambling to rewrite their ordinances in time for them to take effect on Jan. 1.
The new laws allow anyone to water any day of the week, just as long as they don't do so from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. But unlike previous water-conservation rules, this new law inexplicably prevents local communities from setting rules that are more strict than the state's unless they get permission from the state Environmental Protection Division.
To get that permission, a local community would have to prove tighter restrictions are needed because of conditions such as drought. What if a local community just thinks it's a good idea to save more water? That's not a good enough reason, apparently, for the state to allow better conservation efforts.
Some observers believe water will become the most important issue to Georgia and surrounding states in the next few years. For the Savannah River basin, much of that fight consists of preventing Atlanta from tapping into our water resources.
If we lose that war, we'll know the first shots were fired when SB 370 took away the ability of local communities to fight.
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