Watering bans in dry South

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Watering bans in dry South Mon Jun 19 2000 10:02am EDT Donna Pistilli Sauer, weather.com

Despite a scattering of thunderstorms in recent days, much of the Southeast remains in the midst of severe drought. Today, one state is taking steps to conserve its short supply of water.

Georgia officials today imposed statewide water-use restrictions, limiting the times during which residents can use water outdoors.

If Georgia residents are caught watering lawns, filling pools or washing cars between the hours of 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. they could face a fine as high as $500. The ban also restricts the days on which they can water  odd numbered addresses on odd numbered days, even addresses on even days.

Some metro Atlanta counties have further limited the hours of the ban or prohibited outdoor water use altogether.

Across the state, the drought has been ongoing for two years. Rainfall deficits for this year are already nearing a foot in the Atlanta area, but top two feet when combined with 1999's deficits.

The drought extends across most of the Southeast, including Florida, where rivers are running extremely low and wildfires threaten the dry landscape.

Officials with the Southwest Florida Water Management District report that parts of the Hillsborough River are flowing at the lowest rate in the 61 years that records have been kept. Much of the nearby Withlacoochee is dry riverbed, they say.

A few thunderstorms could bring some much-needed rain to the peninsula today, forecasters say, but they may do more harm than good. Lightning has been a common trigger of wildfires across the state this spring, and any storms that occur today could spark more fires.

So far this year, more than 4,000 fires have burned some 140,800 acres across the state, the Florida Division of Forestry reported.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), June 19, 2000


Ga. pours it on with water ban County workers enforce statewide restrictions

Associated Press CARTERSVILLE, Ga. - Folks drop their hoses and scramble for their sprinkler valves when they see Reggie Nation driving through the neighborhood.

A three-year drought that has parched lawns and crippled crops across the Southeast has turned Nation, a county maintenance worker, into one of the most feared men in Georgia. He and his colleagues make sure homeowners obsessed with perfect gardens and lush lawns don't violate statewide watering bans.

"There was this one lady who had her hose in her hand when I drove by her house," Nation said. "She dropped the hose. A few minutes later, I eased back by her, and she backed up away from the hose. Finally, when I drove back by her a little bit later, she just turned around and walked inside."

Climatologists say some parts of Georgia would need a foot of rain to pull out of the drought, and most of the state needs at least 8 inches. The mass watering of dying lawns further stressed already low reservoirs across the region.

The drought is also threatening the annual watermelon crop and endangering rare wildlife, and the University of Georgia is worried that another dry summer could finish off the turf on its football field.

Residents of 15 metro Atlanta counties have been under a mandatory 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. watering ban for two weeks. During off-hours, they're only allowed to water every other day. Car washing is out during the ban times as well.

Similar restrictions go into effect throughout the state today. And other county workers, like Nation, will spend their days patrolling neighborhoods for scofflaws trying to keep thirsty lawns from turning brown.

One suburban Atlanta "water cop" caught a man trying to wash his truck out of sight in the back yard. And Nation gave a pet owner a warning for bathing his pet.

"His dog wasn't any bigger than [your hand]," Nation said. "When we pulled up in the driveway and saw him holding the water hose, he just grabbed the dog and tried to hide it behind his back."

http://www.sunspot.net/content/news/story? section=news&pagename=story&storyid=1150350203323

-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), June 19, 2000.

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