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Wednesday, May 16, 2012 - 4:52pm

Drought Grips Georgia

Drought continues to grip Georgia. GPB’s Ellen Reinhardt reports the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has already begun to conserve water in four federal reservoirs.

Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Rob Holland says they started slowing the release of water from the reservoirs May first. Lakes are 6 to 7 feet below normal summer levels.

“There will be a reduction in the amount of hydropower that’s created. There will be lower lake levels for people who recreate on the lakes, and they’re already seeing that. It means an increase in hazards for boaters and swimmers.”

Roger Martin, executive director of the Chattahoochee Riverwarden environmental group, says the low water levels are also impacting fish.

“So the fish do not have the habitat to spawn in. I think you will continue to see more erosion on the banks of our lakes. And that’s depositing sediment that’s covering aquatic life.”

The state’s Water Stewardship Act of 2010 limits Georgia residents to watering their landscapes only between 4pm and 10am.

But Roger Martin thinks further restrictions should be put in place to help ward off drought conditions like those of 2007.

“I think we need to be conserving more and pushing more and more water restrictions. Hopefully it won’t get as bad, but why wait til it gets as bad.”

But Martin isn’t optimistic such restrictions will be put in place. He says such water conservation can hurt business, something officials don’t want to do during a struggling economy.

The state climatologist says it appears Georgia won’t see much rain this summer. He says it may take a tropical storm to ease the drought.