Persistent dry conditions have prompted the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) to declare a Level 1 Drought Response in 53 counties. A Level 1 Drought Response declaration includes a public information campaign by water utilities to help citizens better understand drought, its impact on water supplies and the need for water conservation. It is possible that in the coming weeks or months, the EPD may expand the Level 1 declaration or declare a Level 2 Drought Response, which includes watering restrictions.
In addition to the Drought Response levels, the outdoor water use schedule required under the Georgia Water Stewardship Act of 2010 remains in place statewide. This schedule allows outdoor water use year round only between the hours of 4 p.m. and 10 a.m.
Overall, the drought continues to result in very low streamflow into all of our reservoirs, which negatively impacts our lake levels. The U.S. Drought Monitor http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu demonstrates that streamflow conditions have worsened during the last several weeks and the current weather forecast for Georgia calls for dry conditions through December. With lower lake levels, it is important for individuals with boats and other water-related equipment and facilities to stay alert to changing conditions. Additional caution should be exercised when using boat ramps and boating on the lakes.
We all need to do our part to conserve water. Georgia Power is managing limited water resources as efficiently as we can for power generation, downstream flow requirements, license obligations and lake levels. We have canceled winter drawdowns where possible in response to the drought, declined requests for non-essential downstream flows and are coordinating our operations with federal, state and local water agencies.
We are asking each of you, as our lake stewardship partners, to take steps to conserve water at your lake home or business. We are also asking you to limit any withdrawals from the lakes for outdoor watering. The Georgia EPD has a wealth of water conservation tips on their website that will be helpful to you. For information, visit http://epd.georgia.gov/water-conservation
Georgia Power will continue to closely monitor conditions on the lakes and carefully manage the limited water resources. We post our updated lake levels each morning at www.georgiapowerlakes.com. We will continue to communicate with you by our webpage, Facebook and email on state Drought Response declarations, the conditions at our reservoirs and water conservation tips. Thank you for your understanding and for doing your part to conserve water.