The Macon Water Authority

790 Second Street • Macon, GA 31202-0108 • (478) 464-5600

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Middle Georgia faces Level 1 Drought

Nov 18, 2016 by Chris Wood, Ph.D.

Mwa_drought_river_web_pic_1

The water flow in the Ocmulgee River is down during the current drought, but MWA officials assure customers there is more than adequate water supply to meet their needs. However, we all should be wise in our water use.

The extreme and exceptional drought that has impacted north Georgia and metro Atlanta for months has made its way to Middle Georgia, evident in the Level 1 Drought Response imposed on Nov. 17, by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) for 58 counties, including Macon-Bibb.

In response to the Level 1 Drought Declaration by Georgia EPD, Macon Water Authority (MWA) officials are encouraging water customers to use water wisely and to follow the current outdoor water use rules, which allow for daily outdoor watering except between the hours of 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

As a part of its public information campaign to notify citizens in the impacted service area of the Level 1 Drought Response, the MWA offers the following wise water use examples for customers to incorporate in their daily lives:

• Only water landscape when necessary, in the early morning or late evening; adjust sprinklers so only the lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalks, or street.
• Water in several short sessions rather than in one long session, to reduce runoff and to allow water to infiltrate into the soil and plant roots.
• Check and repair leaks inside and outside of the home.
• Take shorter showers and turn off the water when shaving or brushing teeth.
• Fill dish washers and washing machines, assuring a full load for every use.

The Level 1 Drought Declaration is the cause of “an extended period of little or no rain and increasing dryness in the impacted areas,” says Richard Dunn, EPD Director. In addition, weather forecasters project little chance of relief in the near future, as this coming winter is expected to be dryer than normal across most of Georgia.

EPD officials say this week marks the 15th consecutive week of severe drought in central Georgia. In addition, soil moisture and stream flows – two other factors impacting the Level 1 Drought Declaration – are at or below record lows set during droughts in 2007 and 2011.

“The drought impacting our service area is the result of a lack of rainfall, dryer soils, and lower than normal stream flow. It is not an issue of limited MWA water supply,” says Mark Wyzalek, MWA Director of Laboratory/Environmental Compliance, who is the Authority’s point person for compliance with Georgia EPD’s drought declarations. “We always encourage all of our customers, whether they are residents or businesses, to use water wisely, especially during these times of drought. We likewise want to assure our customers that our water supply is more than adequate to meet their needs in accordance with EPD requirements.”

The MWA’s raw water supply for drinking water production comes from two primary sources – the Ocmulgee River and Javors Lucas Lake, the Authority’s 589-acre surface water reservoir. Currently, the Authority has 3.9 billion gallons of water in the reservoir, which is more than adequate to supply the average daily drinking water demand of its approximately 50,000 water customer accounts, says Wyzalek.

“Our reservoir level actually is trending upward, because we are permitted to pump 35 million gallons per day (MGD) from the river to fill the reservoir,” adds Wyzalek. “We have been pumping 30 to 32 MGD to fill Javors Lucas Lake, while we have been withdrawing only 25 to 28 MGD for our water treatment plant to meet daily customer demand.”

To manage drought conditions more effectively, the MWA completed recent capital improvements that included the installation of variable frequency drive (VFD) pumps at the river intake to more efficiently transfer source water from the Ocmulgee to Javors Lucas Lake.

More information on water conservation, including the complete outdoor water use rules and exemptions, is available online at http://epd.georgia.gov/water-conservation.

MWA Contact:
Mark Wyzalek, Director of Laboratory/Environmental Compliance
Phone: 478-464-5678 (office) OR 478-256-9384 (mobile)
Email: mark.wyzalek@maconwater.org

Media Contact:
Chris Wood, Ph.D.
Phone: 770-757-1681 (mobile)
Email: jcwood@uga.edu OR chris@jwapr.com

Tagged: macon water authority, mwa, georgia environmental protection division, georgia epd drought response, drought declaration, mwa drought response, drought

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