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Drought tightens grip on southeast Georgia
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If you thought Georgia needed rain, you’re right. And though the entire state is in a drought, some parts of the state are worse off than others – including Bryan County, which is one of several area counties experiencing a severe drought, according to University of Georgia climatologist David Stooksbury.

So what does severe drought mean? It means that in 95 out of 100 years, soil moisture and stream flow levels are greater than they currently are. It’s no wonder we’re so dry when rainfall deficits from Jan. 1-April 16 include 5.67 inches in nearby Savannah, while information on the National Weather Service website shows Bryan County’s deficit is between six and eight inches.

Yet there are places in Georgia even dryer, including LaFayette in Northwest Georgia with a deficit of 11.27 inches.

And despite a scattering of recent showers, there are signs that the drought is taking its toll. It's contributing to wildfires in the area while also impacting everything from farmers to our waterways – where daily record low flows have been reported on several rivers, including the Ogeechee near Eden.

Groundwater levels in southeast Georgia also continue to drop, according to Stooksbury, and there’s little relief from the dry conditions expected anytime soon.

That prompted the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to declare a statewide level two drought response on Wednesday and to require all residents to begin following a more stringent outdoor water use schedule.

"Every area of Georgia has been in a persistent and progressive drought condition since last June," EPD Director Carol Couch said. "It’s important that we take steps now to prepare for the warm, typically dry summer months."

Not that this spring has been typical at all. Can anyone remember the last time Bryan County saw a steady, soaking rain?

"March was very dry and it’s historically a very wet month in Georgia," Stooksbury said. "That’s one of the reasons we’re in trouble now."

The new schedule limits outdoor watering of lawns and plants to mornings only. In addition, odd number addresses may water only on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from midnight-10 a.m. Even numbered and unnumbered addresses may water on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays from midnight-10 a.m.

We urge all Bryan County residents to follow these restrictions, which ultimately are for the good of all Georgia's residents.

Bryan County News

April 21, 2007

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