Drought eases up statewide

Local rivers, lakes swell in February

Special photo 
Clayton County Water Authority’s reservoirs are 100 percent to capacity thanks to February rains.

Special photo Clayton County Water Authority’s reservoirs are 100 percent to capacity thanks to February rains.

JONESBORO — Drought conditions are evaporating by the day in Georgia.

The region has benefited from an abnormal pelting of rain the past several weeks, said Adam Baker, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

“We did have a pretty active period of rainfall,” Bake said.

Dryness around the state has been on the decline since New Year’s Day, according to a report by the National Drought Mitigation Center’s U.S. Drought Monitor.

The report notes about 54 percent of the state is experiencing moderate to severe drought. That is down from 89 percent that experienced drought to start the year.

Baker said rainfall in metro Atlanta was above the 30-year average in February, following more than a year of below-normal rainfall.

It was the 15th wettest February on record since 1878, he said. About 7.5 inches of rain fell last month compared to the record 12.77 inches in 1961 and Atlanta’s 4.67-inch year-to-year norm for February.

Local water authorities attribute the good health of their reservoirs and rivers to the mid-winter rains.

Clayton County Water Authority’s reservoirs reached full pool two weeks ago, said Guy Pihera, the authority’s water production manager.

Pihera said 4.3 billion gallons is about 180 days of drinking water supply for the authority which serves a population of more than 270,000.

About 22,000 residents get their drinking water from the Ocmulgee River in nearby rural Butts County.

Butts County Water & Sewer Authority receives 95 percent of its water supply from the river, said Marcie Seleb, the authority’s general manager.

“Butts County is suffering no impacts of last year’s drought,” said Seleb. “Last summer, we got some reports where people’s (private ground) wells had gone dry.”

Seleb said the authority pulls 2 million gallons daily from the 975 million gallons-per-day river flow.

Eric Osborne is the water production manager for Henry County Water and Sewerage Authority. He said the county is ahead year-over-year.

“We’re in better shape than we were last year,” said Osborne.

The authority’s five reservoirs are above 97 percent full pool and are holding nearly 18 billion gallons. It means 543 days of supply for the more sparsely populated Henry County.