Environment

Georgia Lifts Drought Response

After a late summer heatwave, more than 100 Georgia counties -- including all of metro Atlanta — had been under a state-mandated drought response.
After a late summer heatwave, more than 100 Georgia counties -- including all of metro Atlanta — had been under a state-mandated drought response.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press
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Georgia officials are lifting drought rules across the state.

After a late summer heatwave, more than 100 Georgia counties — including all of metro Atlanta — had been under a state-mandated drought response. In late October, 96% of the state was experiencing some level of dry or drought conditions.

Now, the state is nearly drought-free. According to the most recent update of the U.S. Drought Monitor, 96% of Georgia is not in any category of drought.

“We’ve had some beneficial rainfall over the past two to three weeks that have really helped,” said Bill Murphey, state climatologist with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.

September and early October were very hot and very dry in Georgia, resulting in a rapidly-developing drought that spread across much of the state. Atlanta had 20 consecutive days without measurable rain in September, and some places got permission from the state to institute local water use restrictions.

By late October, the state EPD had called for a “Level 1” drought response in most of Georgia. That level of response doesn’t require water use restrictions but does direct agencies to conduct pubic outreach campaigns on water resources and conservation.

The state has ended those requirements.

“We’re going into winter in pretty good shape,” said Jac Capp, chief of the watershed protection branch for Georgia EPD. “Lake Lanier is higher than it historically is on average for this time of year.”

The handful of places that had stricter water use rules, such as limiting outdoor watering, are set see those expire Dec. 31, according to the EPD. Those include Griffin, Forsyth and Senoia, and Coweta and Fayette Counties.