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Water levels OK, restrictions continue

By Greg Gelpi

Clayton County has been under voluntary water restrictions for about a year, but those restrictions could become mandatory, the Clayton County Water Authority said Wednesday.

The state Department of Natural Resources was proposed mandating the water restrictions starting Aug. 1.

Currently, Clayton County residents voluntarily limit their water usage. Odd numbered addresses use water outside on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, while even numbered addresses use water outside on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Terry Hicks, the deputy manager of the Clayton County Water Authority and a county resident for 33 years, said water restrictions are nothing new in the county.

"We've been dealing with water restrictions on and off all that time," Hicks said, adding that the current voluntary restrictions were imposed in June 2003. "We're in good shape. Our raw water supply is at 98 percent."

The city of Griffin's water was down to about a 20-day supply a few years ago, Hicks said, but Clayton County is doing much better.

He explained that if the county's raw water supply was at 100 percent then the county could have water for 150 days without any rain.

"We've been under restrictions so long people here just get used to it," Hicks said.

The National Weather Service is forecasting a summer of precipitation that is at or below normal rainfall conditions.

So far this year, Clayton County has recorded 13.88 inches of rain. That is well below the normal total at this time in the year, which is 22.84 inches.

The driest March to May rainfall total in the Atlanta area was 5.13 inches in 1887. The area has had 6.44 inches during the same period this year, the fourth driest March to May period ever recorded by the National Weather Service.

Most of the water used by Clayton County comes from water sources that are entirely in the county, Hicks said. To build up the county's water supplies, the water authority has been constructing lakes and reservoirs to capture and store water.

In an average day, Clayton County consumes about 30 million gallons of water. The county can produce as much as 42 million gallons each day. In the winter, water usage dips to about 26 million to 27 million gallons a day.