Rockdale eases water restrictions

CONYERS - Just in time for yard and garden warriors to start another growing season, the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners voted to drop some watering restrictions in place due to drought conditions last year.

The move was more a procedural move than anything else. The county was still under the restrictions mandated by Gov. Sonny Perdue in September for over 61 counties in north Georgia.

In February, Perdue modified those restrictions and now hand watering of existing landscaping and filling up installed swimming pools will be allowed.

"We want to make it as least restrictive as possible, understanding a lot of people are wanting to work on their gardens and using their swimming pools," Rockdale County spokeswoman Julie Mills said.

Perdue continued his mandate, however, that all water departments reduce their water usage by 10 percent. On Monday, parameters used for the governor's water reduction mandate will shift from average water usage between September 2006 and March 2007 to a new standard based on average water usage between April 2007 through September 2007.

Rockdale County met the first 10 percent reduction mandate even though the county's reservoir is at full pool and the water department is producing drinkable water at less than half its capacity.

Rockdale Water Resources officials have expressed worries over how the governor's mandate will affect its revenue by forcing the system to restrict use.

Rockdale County Board of Commissioners Chairman Roy Middlebrooks sent a letter to Perdue expressing those concerns. Middlebrooks and the other commissioners have asserted that the drought affects Atlanta and other communities that depend on Lake Lanier more so than Rockdale County, which relies on its own source of water, Lake Randy Poynter.

Another point Middlebrooks made is that Rockdale County is in the Ocmulgee River basin and is unfairly lumped in with the rest of north Georgia, which depends on the Chattahoochee River for water.

There appear to be no immediate plans to let individual communities out of the Level 4 drought area, according to Marshall Guest, deputy press secretary for the Governor's Office.

Jay Jones can be reached at jay.jones@rockdalecitizen.com