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Board to consider watering restrictions

By Michael Davis

Scott Webb is worried that proposed outdoor watering restrictions might affect his business if implemented.

He's the owner of a Jonesboro landscaping company that does work throughout Clayton and Henry counties.

"One of the jobs we're doing is right by the (Henry County Water and Sewerage ) Authority, and they'll be watching us like a hawk," he said.

The state Board of Natural Resources could decide Tuesday whether to impose a statewide watering ban because of low rainfall levels.

The ban would be a rehash of the old ban, lifted in 2003, that alternated permitted watering days: odd numbered addresses on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays; even-numbered addresses on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. No watering would be allowed on Fridays.

The restrictions would apply to residents and many businesses.

"The difficulty is finding available watering times," Webb said.

"They need to create some flexibility in certain areas for special circumstances," he said.

Jack Elkins, president of the Henry County Farm Bureau, said that even in years past, when the state was in a drought, most area farmers were exempt.

"I think everything we have here are like nurseries that use a small amount of water," he said.

Other industries that require water, however, are fighting for exemption.

The Golf Course Owners Association of Georgia has expressed concern over the impact of restrictions on their greens and fairways.

"Things are continuing to evolve on that issue," said Russ Curtis, general manager of the Eagle's Landing Country Club. "A lot will depend on the natural rainfall."

GCOA executive director Cindy Acree said the association has been working with the state on a three year plan to help deal with the tri-state area's water problems.

"We want to be involved and make sure they know we want to be good stewards," she said.

March was recorded as the driest month this year. In April, state climatologist David Stooksbury declared the state was in a "mild drought."

Henry County code enforcement director Charlie Tomlinson said that penalties for watering violations would be up to a magistrate judge, but code enforcement officers would issue a warning as a first citation.

"We've always done that," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.