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Thursday, September 8, 2011 - 11:39am

Communities Scale Back Water Use

Local water authorities statewide are keeping tabs on reservoir levels as a drought continues to grip the state.

Still, only a handful of municipalities have enacted stricter water restrictions.

Northeast Georgia’s Bear Creek Reservoir serves customers in four Athens-area counties. But because the basin is down six feet since the middle of last month, local officials are asking state environmental officials for odd-even watering restrictions. Chris Thomas, who chairs the Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority, says the hope is to cut water reduction by 2.5 percent. He says the reservoir is losing 3 inches of level per day.

The towns of Clarksville, Americus, and Doerun already have permission for tougher restrictions.

Environmental Protection Division spokesman Kevin Chambers says, those are the only requests they’ve received so far. He says conditions don’t always go hand-in-hand with reservoir levels.

“They’re driven by supply, not just conditions. A lot of times you can have dry conditions and still have a good supply of water. And as long as you’re monitoring your supply and keeping an eye on conditions and the forecast and so forth, you can get through it.”

Chambers says the state is already under basic water restrictions. That includes outdoor watering only during late afternoon and late morning hours.