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What Do Drought Conditions Mean For the Industry?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jennifer Addington
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What Do Drought Conditions Mean For the Industry? 


U.S. Drought Monitor - July 28, 2016

It's no secret that things are dry. For several weeks we've told you about rainfall totals, drought conditions and the rules for outdoor watering.  There's good news and bad. For the year, Atlanta has received 6" inches less rain than normal.  But so far, Georgian's have continued to demonstrate a commitment to conservation. Water usage in the Metro Atlanta Water District has dropped 10% since 2001 despite a million more people in the area. As a result of these efforts, 2040 water demand forecasts show that the region will use 25 percent less water in the future than was estimated as recently as 2009.


What About Now? GGIA is working with GA EPD, contacts with the Metro District and others to closely monitor any new developments. This week we were able to bring about quick change when DeKalb Country mistakenly published information that they would limit outdoor watering to the odd-even schedule. These actions were contrary to the requirements put forth in the Water Stewardship Act that require water providers to obtain permission from EPD before enacting restrictions different than those of the state. We've also seen other short-term rule changes in Milledgeville and Mount Airy due to problems with water pumps and equipment. 


If conditions continue to be dry, we anticipate more of these instances. However, we will continue working closely with EPD and other state officials to insure that water providers are following the procedures of the WSA that eliminate confusion by maintaining consistent outdoor water rules across the region. We are already in touch with key legislative contacts who are working with GGIA to keep a close watch on conditions.


Just as important, we are working with regulators to craft messaging that lets Georgians know that even during droughts, the green industry plays an important part in the economic and environmental health of Georgia. 


What Can You Do? Encouraging efficient irrigation practices and helping your customers understand the rules are a good place to start. But it's also important to keep a close watch on local conditions and begin a dialogue with your local water providers. Be a source for local officials by sharing GGIA's Watering Tips for the Landscape flyer available to all GGIA members by clicking here.  Contacted by the media? Contact GGIA for help in effectively communicating the industry's commitment to smart water use. 


Let Us Know! GGIA members play an important role in helping us keep up with local news and changes. If you hear news about changes in your local area, please let us know. Call Chris Butts at 706-540-2813 or via email at

Know the Current Rules. Stay tuned for more news from GGIA when conditions change. We are your source for timely updates and news as this story continues to change.


Current Rules from Georgia EPD: 


Georgia Water Stewardship Act

The Georgia Water Stewardship Act went into effect statewide on June 2, 2010.  It allows daily outdoor watering for purposes of planting, growing, managing, or maintaining ground cover, trees, shrubs, or other plants only between the hours of 4 p.m. and 10 a.m. by anyone whose water is supplied by a water system permitted by the Environmental Protection Division. 

The following outdoor water uses also are allowed daily at any time of the day by anyone:

  • Commercial agricultural operations as defined in Code Section 1-3-3;
  • Capture and reuse of cooling system condensate or storm water in compliance with applicable local ordinances and state guidelines;
  • Reuse of gray water in compliance with Code Section 31-3-5.2 and applicable local board of health regulations adopted pursuant thereto;
  • Use of reclaimed waste water by a designated user from a system permitted by the Environmental Protection Division of the department to provide reclaimed waste water;
  • Irrigation of personal food gardens;
  • Irrigation of new and replanted plant, seed, or turf in landscapes, golf courses, or sports turf fields during installation and for a period of 30 days immediately following the date of installation;
  • Drip irrigation or irrigation using soaker hoses;
  • Handwatering with a hose with automatic cutoff or handheld container;
  • Use of water withdrawn from private water wells or surface water by an owner or operator of property if such well or surface water is on said property;
  • Irrigation of horticultural crops held for sale, resale, or installation;
  • Irrigation of athletic fields, golf courses, or public turf grass recreational areas;
  • Installation, maintenance, or calibration of irrigation systems; or
  • Hydroseeding.


Variances From State Outdoor Water Use Schedules

Georgia Law (Section 12-5-7) states that local governments may, upon application to and approval by the director of the Georgia EPD, impose more stringent restrictions on outdoor water use during periods of drought and periods of non-drought.  The local authority must be able to demonstrate "good cause" and must follow a process approved by EPD to be considered for approval

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