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State Declares Drought Response, Underscoring Importance of Water Conservation

Posted on: Sep 09, 2016

A rain gauge can help determine recent rainfall and the watering needs of outdoor plants.

Following a dry spring and summer, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division declared a Level 1 drought response on Sept. 9 across 53 counties, including all 15 counties in the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District (Metro Water District). This declaration requires water providers to educate the public about drought conditions and water conservation. 

According to the National Weather Service, from March through September, Atlanta received 20.02 inches of rain – around 9.4 inches less than the 30-year average for the same six-month period.


“We don’t know how long this drought will last, so we all need to do our part to conserve. Thankfully, the Metro Water District’s robust conservation and education programs have significantly reduced water use and have prepared us well to manage our water supplies safely and responsibly through drought periods, now and in the future.”

Mayor Boyd Austin, Chairman, Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District

Atlanta Region Has Strong Track Record of Water Conservation

Since its creation in 2001, the Metro Water District has implemented one of the most comprehensive regional water management plans in the country that mandates an array of conservation initiatives, including:

  •  A toilet rebate program that has replaced more than 110,000 old fixtures with high-efficient models, saving nearly a billion gallons of water a year
  • A tiered pricing structure that charges higher rates the more water that is used, encouraging conservation
  • A sophisticated leak detection program that has enabled utilities to detect and repair more than 23,000 leaks in the past four years alone, using new methods such as sonar to inspect pipes.

The state’s permanent year-round outdoor watering restrictions limit outdoor watering to the hours between 4 p.m. and 10 a.m. to avoid the hottest part of the day when more evaporation occurs, with certain limited exceptions as set forth in the 2010 Georgia Water Stewardship Act.

As a result of these and other practices, water use in the Metro Water District has dropped by more than 10 percent since 2001, despite a population increase of more than one million. In addition, water demand forecasts show that the region will use 25 percent less water in 2050 than was estimated as recently as 2009.

Steps Metro Atlanta Residents Can Take to Conserve Water 

It’s important to note that dry periods are part of the normal weather cycle. We don’t know how long this drought may last, so we all need to do our part to conserve.

As a reminder, here are some ways metro Atlanta residents can save water:

  • Use a rain gauge to determine how much it has rained over the week before watering outdoor plants. Most outdoor plants need an inch of water per week.
  • Water in several short sessions instead of one long session. This reduces runoff and allows water to infiltrate into soil and plant roots.
  • Only water lawns when needed. If the blades of grass don’t bounce back after walking across the lawn, it is time to water. Water lawns and plants in the early morning and late evening.
  • Check and repair leaks inside and outside the home.
  • Shorten showers and turn off water when shaving or brushing teeth.
  • Fill dishwashers and washing machines. Make sure there is a full load every time.

Find more conservation tips at My Drop Counts.