State eases water restrictions after months of heavy rainfall

Georgia lifted outdoor watering restrictions Wednesday for the first time since a historic drought began in 2006.

“This drought has ended,” Carol Couch, director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, said at a meeting of the State Drought Response Committee. “Our water supplies are flush. Our rivers and streams have rebounded.”

In the past 90 days, the Macon area has received almost 21 inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service. That’s more than double the typical total, which is just over 10 inches.

Residential watering is still limited to three times a week on odd-even days, depending on a homeowner’s street address. But residents may water at any time of the day.

Previously in Middle Georgia, watering was not permitted except between midnight and 10 a.m., except in Macon, which received permission to allow residents to water from 4 p.m. to midnight as well.

In the Atlanta area, outdoor watering has been banned or heavily restricted for the past year.

Couch endorsed the change in watering restrictions because of significant rainfall this spring. In a news release, though, she cautioned Georgians not to waste water. The EPD is encouraging people to refrain from watering during the middle of the day — from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — when evaporation makes watering far less efficient.

Under permanent statewide water rules, odd-numbered addresses may water lawns and landscapes on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, and even-numbered addresses may water on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Heavy rainfall in recent months has helped Georgia and the vast majority of the Southeast emerge from the worst drought categories. Just a year ago, more than 40 percent of the region was mired in drought.

The state’s climatologist said Wednesday that Georgia has seen the second wettest spring in 115 years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. To contact writer S. Heather Duncan, call 744-4225.