News MIDDAY UPDATE: Authorities identify Georgia boy who drowned during storm; metro Atlanta’s water use down by 15 percent; Georgia Aquarium now houses only manta ray in U.S.

Authorities have identified a 12-year-old boy who drowned while playing in a drainage ditch as Tropical Storm Fay pounded southwest Georgia with rain.

Grady County emergency management director Jim Ellis says Mack Crutchfield apparently was overcome by rushing waters in the ditch as the storm dumped 10 to 12 inches of rain in the area. He says the boy drowned in an area that normally is dry.

Georgia Emergency Management Agency spokesman Buzz Weiss says the drowning is the only storm-related death so far in the state.

Rain continued to fall in the area today. Weiss says officials closed Thomasville city schools and systems in Grady, Decatur, Miller and Seminole counties because of the weather.

- Associated Press

Metro Atlanta’s water use down by 15 percent

Water conservation in the metropolitan Atlanta area apparently is paying off.

An analysis of state data by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows the region used 15 percent less water from Lake Lanier and the upper Chattahoochee River this July than in July 2007.

This year’s drop was 25.5 percent compared to July 2006.

The water saved in metro Atlanta averaged 66 million gallons of water per day. State and local officials credit restrictions on outdoor water use, higher water rates, and individuals and industries cutting back.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the conservation is helping Lake Lanier. Corps officials say they are only releasing enough water from the lake’s Buford Dam into the Chattahoochee River to meet the region’s needs.

But Lake Lanier is lower than it’s ever been in any August.

- Associated Press

Georgia Aquarium now houses only manta ray in U.S.

The creatures just keep getting larger at the world’s biggest fish tank.

The Georgia Aquarium is now home to the only manta ray on exhibit in the United States. The ray, named ‘‘Nandi’’ after the mother of Shaka Zulu, was rescued from shark nets along the South African coast last year.

Most aquariums can’t house a manta ray because of how large the animal gets — up to 26 feet across and weighing about 6,000 pounds. The graceful animal is the largest of the rays.

But the Georgia Aquarium’s 6.3 million-gallon salt water exhibit has plenty room for Nandi, who is about 9 feet from the tip of one wing to the other and still growing.

‘‘Having the opportunity to work with this animal and grow our understanding of this strange yet gentle giant will be an opportunity of a lifetime,’’ said aquarium CEO Mike Leven.

On Friday, Nandi was released into the aquarium’s enormous Ocean Voyager tank to test the waters before her official public debut Monday. She glided around the tank, circling from one corner to another amid the whale sharks and giant groupers.

- Associated Press


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