Rains help Poynter Lake rebound from low level

CONYERS -- Recent rains have helped to replenish the water level at Randy Poynter Lake, the drinking water source for Rockdale County residents.

Reports this week show Poynter Lake's water level is the highest it has been since early November. The lake, located in north Rockdale County, is at 724.8 feet, or 2.8 feet higher than its lowest point on Nov. 2.

Rockdale Water Resources Director Dwight Wicks said the recent rains have been "tremendous" in helping to recharge the lake, but more rain is needed. The lake is still about 9 feet below full pool.

The lake level has dropped significantly from its full pool of 733.75 feet due to a dry summer and was nearly at record low levels from the drought of 2007.

RWR officials discussed updating the county's drought contingency plan to where water restrictions would be tied to the lake level.

The county's drought plan has three stages: water alert, emergency and water crisis. Wicks said during a Board of Commissioners work session on Dec. 6 that the proposed amendments to the drought plan will be measured by the county's water supply and trigger water conservation measures.

The drought plan was up for a vote by the Board of Commissioners earlier this month but was withdrawn by RWR. Terrell Gibbs, RWR deputy director for operations, explained each county is having to come up with its own drought plan after the Georgia Water Stewardship Act of 2010 became law and did away with the statewide drought plan.

Gibbs said he and his staff believe restrictions between the emergency and water crisis stages in the county's draft plan were too drastic.

"Our efforts were to develop a more restrictive drought plan to be implemented during drought conditions," Gibbs said in an email response to questions. "The draft we tabled is being looked over once more with the idea of implementing a four-stage drought plan instead of a three-stage drought plan."

Once the draft plan is complete, it will need the approval of the local Board of Commissioners and Georgia's Environmental Protection Division to become law.