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Clayton among top 'water wise' communities

By Linda Looney-Bond

Clayton County has been recognized as one of the nation's top "water wise" communities, for protecting clean water, and public health with innovative green solutions.

American Rivers, a conservation group based in Washington, D.C., said the county was honored based on its water recycling system.

"While most southeastern communities experienced major water shortages during the 2007-2008 drought, Clayton County was an exception." said Amy Kober, the organization's spokesperson, in a written statement.

"An innovative water recycling system that filters treated wastewater through a series of constructed wetlands helped the county maintain an abundant water supply throughout the record-setting drought," Kober said.

While Atlanta's Lake Lanier shrank to a 90-day supply of water, Clayton County maintained a 230-day supply in its reservoirs, according to the organization.

"We're very honored," Clayton County Water Authority General Manager Michael Thomas said Thursday. "They did case studies on six or seven communities throughout the United States, so, to be included in that is quite an honor," he said.

"We're recycling our water so that we don't run out. It gets treated three to four times, before it's re-used as drinking water," he said.

Other "smart water" communities named by American Rivers include: Portland, Ore.; Boston, Mass.; Staten Island, N.Y.; and Seattle, Wash.

Meanwhile, the Clayton Water Authority is encouraging area residents to attend the 10th Annual Wetlands and Watershed Festival, being held Saturday, Oct. 3, at the Newman Wetlands in Hampton. The event is scheduled to take place from 10 a.m., until 3 p.m, at 2755 Freeman Road.

The 32-acre facility includes a learning/exhibit center and half-mile wetlands trail that gives visitors an opportunity to see many animal and plant species, according to a water authority press release.

During the festival, visitors may participate in wetlands-and-watershed activities, guided wetland walks, a scavenger hunt, face painting, and enjoy live animal exhibits, according to Water Authority Spokesperson Suzanne Brown. For more information about the festival, call (770) 603-5606.