Drought deepens, lakes fall

Fishermen enjoy Lake Horton last spring before the pool fell more than 14 feet from its normal depth during the continuing drought. Photo/Maggie Zerkus.

County seeks tougher watering rules, ‘serious water conservation’ efforts

With the drought bringing the level of Lake Horton to 14 feet below its full pool, county water officials want to petition state regulators to adopt new water restrictions for the entire county.

The Fayette County Commission is expected to approve a petition Thursday that would restrict all outdoor watering to the odd-even system for all properties in Fayette County. Currently all property owners are allowed to water landscaping daily between 4 p.m. and 10 a.m., but that would be eliminated under the additional water restrictions, officials said.

The water system is already on an odd-even system for all other outdoor watering such as car washing and power washing of home exteriors, for example.

The new restrictions, if approved by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, would “give us an opportunity to evaluate come spring time,” said Water System Director Tony Parrott. “We’ve got to make the first step towards some serious water conservation and then come springtime we can look at how the winter rains have done and at that point we can say if we need to have something more.”

The good news is that the last time a full odd-even plan watering ban was enacted here, residents and business owners were cooperative in helping conserve water, Parrott said.

The odd-even plan calls for odd numbered addresses to water outdoors only on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays while even numbered addresses would water outdoors on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. No one is allowed to water on Fridays under such restrictions.

Parrott said part of the problem with Lake Horton is that it did not completely fill up over the rainy season last winter, and he thinks the same problem will occur this winter.

The water system is allowed to withdraw water for Lake Horton from the Flint River, but only when the level of the Flint reaches a certain height, Parrott said. There haven’t been many days this summer when that level has been reached, causing the lake to dip even lower, Parrott said, adding there were four days in a row recently that thanks to local rains the system was able to pump from the Flint into Lake Horton.

Lake Kedron, one of the county’s other reservoirs, is about seven feet low but is in good shape for this time of year because it started the year full, Parrott said, adding that Kedron is much smaller than Lake Horton.

The county is also nearing completion of the dam for its third reservoir, Lake McIntosh, located between Peachtree City and Coweta County. Officials hope to begin impounding rainwater soon to help create the lake, but they are required to maintain a minimum flow of water on Line Creek.

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