Watering awaits OK from BOC
State relaxes rules, but commissioners must vote

COVINGTON - Watering restrictions have been relaxed to a non-drought schedule by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, meaning outdoor watering is allowed at any time on assigned days, but Newton County residents must wait for approval from the Board of Commissioners before taking advantage of the new rules.

For now, Newton County remains under the drought Level IV C restrictions. The board will vote on whether to relax restrictions further at its Tuesday night meeting.

Water Resources Director Karl Kelley said that while the board typically adopts whatever state regulations are in place, "They always want to vote on it. It's not automatic."

Presently in Newton County, manual or automatic outdoor sprinkling is allowed, along with car washing, between midnight and 10 a.m. on assigned days of the week determined by address.

Residents of even-numbered and unnumbered addresses may water Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. Residents with odd-numbered addresses can water Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

Washing of hard surfaces such as streets, gutters, sidewalks and driveways is prohibited, except when necessary for public health or safety.

The use of hydrants for non-public safety reasons is also prohibited.

Gov. Sonny Perdue announced Wednesday that due to significant rainfall and improved water supplies, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division had issued a non-drought schedule for outdoor water use for the first time since June 2006.

While the odd-even schedule remains in effect, watering can now be done at any time on assigned days, though watering between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. is discouraged.

Overall, Georgians averaged a monthly savings of about 15 percent since the November 2007 implementation of conservation measures, according to a press release issued by the governor's office.

"We have just lived through one of the worst droughts in Georgia history, and citizens should be applauded for the great job they have done conserving water," EPD Director Carol A. Couch said. "The decision to ease outdoor watering restrictions should not be seen as a license to waste water, but as a vote of confidence in Georgians' ability to conserve and use water efficiently."

The state will continue to require large water systems and local governments producing more than 100,000 gallons of water per day in the former Level IV drought response area to file monthly water use reports. If supplies drop and drought conditions reappear, tougher restrictions will be implemented again.