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Drought persists despite heavy rains
Henry, Clayton water supplies still hefty

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

The two-day rain event over much of North Georgia earlier this week helped decrease rainfall deficits. But, the effect has, so far, been somewhat small to local water reserves.

Reservoirs in Henry and Clayton counties continue to be above those in neighboring jurisdictions, each with water storage currently measuring above 90 percent.

"Our reservoirs are in good shape," said Suzanne Brown, spokeswoman for the Clayton County Water Authority (CCWA).

The rain event, lasting from Dec. 10-11 this week, dropped nearly three inches on parts of metro Atlanta. Jonesboro, for instance, saw 1.46 inches of rain on Dec. 10, and 0.72 inches of rain on Dec. 11.

CCWA's watershed area, according to Brown, received about 2.6 inches of rain. She said the rain amount should replenish Clayton's five reservoirs, though not significantly more.

"We're always thankful to get the rain, though," she said. "Every little bit helps."

Earlier this week, Clayton reported its reservoirs - capable of storing 4.1 billion gallons of water - are 94 percent full. The reservoirs supply drinking water to the roughly 275,000 people in Clayton County, where CCWA handles some 78,000 residential and business customer accounts.

Henry has 54,000 customers, who have access to an abundant 18 billion gallon in maximum water storage capacity. The Henry County Water and Sewerage Authority (HCWSA) has five reservoirs at 92 percent full pool; they pump an average 17 million gallons daily.

"We really don't have any concerns at all with our ability to meet demand," said HCWSA spokesman Roderick Burch. "The rain we had did bring the reservoirs up a little bit. It takes a lot of rain to fill them up, but the run-off afterwards has a good impact on our reservoirs too."

Burch added, "if we have a normal winter, it is very likely that we will be at 100 percent full before the summer."

Weather officials expect an average winter with mild weather conditions, not withstanding the occasional extreme weather pattern.

"We are looking at a fairly typical, average winter that is slightly warmer than usual," said Mike Leary, National Weather Service forecaster.

Leary said the recent rains are somewhat commonplace for December, typically the wettest month of the winter season.

"We had an influx of warm gulf moisture come up and come together with a cold front," Leary said. "It does happen every few years. Most rain comes in August and through fall from tropical systems, which helps make up rain deficits."

Georgia relies on late summer tropic storms and early winter precipitation to help make up on year-round rainfall deficits and drought conditions.

Both Henry and Clayton counties remain under the state's Level IV-c drought designation, which means that residents are allowed to use water outdoors on an odd-even schedule, three days per week, between midnight and 10 a.m. For more, visit the CCWA or HCWSA web sites.

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On the net:

HCWSA: www.hcwsa.com

CCWA: www.ccwa1.com