Current restrictions have been set in place since former Gov. Sonny Perdue's "Water Stewardship Act" was signed into law June 1, 2010. To date, Gov. Nathan Deal has not established changes or a new law restricting water usage.
"As far as I know we're following the rules," said Bartow County Water Department Superintendent Gene Camp. "I don't know of anything new."
Restrictions under Perdue's act limit even-numbered addresses to Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays only; odd-numbered addresses to Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays only; no outdoor watering on Fridays; and established landscapes have a time limit prohibiting watering between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily.
Established landscapes are defined as any lawn that was not planted or installed within the past 30 days. Any newly laid lawns, referred to as new landscapes, may be watered without time limitations until the 30-day installation period is reached.
Failure to obey the restrictions can result in fines up to $500, depending on the offense number. Water services also may be disconnected for violators who continue to ignore the rules and do not pay any accrued fines.
According to the city of Cartersville water department, a story was aired over the weekend on local major news networks that could be causing confusion to Bartow residents. The department stated that restrictions have not been lifted for sprinklers and irrigation systems.
However, citizens can water their lawns at any time, any day, if they are using a hand-held system where the nozzle has a shut-off valve. Personal food gardens also can be watered at any time without restriction. All guidelines set forth from the 2010 law remain in place and are being followed, according to both county and city departments.
Also under the Water Stewardship Act are restrictions on non-vegetation purposes. Car washing, at this time, remains under the normal even-odd address water restrictions, according to the Georgia EPD.
Although the record highs predicted for the season are likely to cause vegetation to dry out, the water restrictions are established in efforts to conserve the resource. Hope lies in the exemptions and exceptions for some types of landscapes, but not all.
Residents using well water are exempt from all restrictions and limitations.
Per the National Weather Service, Bartow currently falls into a 20 percent deficit for normal rainfall totals for the year.
For more information on watering schedules, exemptions and tips for water conservation, visit the Bartow County Water Department website within www.bartowga.org.
Above average temps expected to continue
The heat was on. Rain was scarce, and drought expanded across Georgia in May.
Temperatures were above normal everywhere in Georgia for a fourth straight month, according to the Office of State Climatologist David Stooksbury. In Atlanta, the monthly average temperature was 70.9 degrees F (1.1 degrees above normal), in Athens 70.4 degrees (1.3 degrees above normal), Columbus 74 degrees (1.7 degrees above normal), Macon 72.3 degrees (1.3 degrees above normal), Savannah 75 degrees (2.2 degrees above normal), Brunswick 75.3 degrees (1.6 degrees above normal), Alma 74.6 degrees (0.8 degree above normal), Valdosta 75.4 degrees (2.7 degrees above normal) and Augusta 71.9 degrees (1.6 degrees above normal). Several record daily high and low temperatures were broken. Many more record highs and a few record lows were tied.
Precipitation in April was extremely dry across most of Georgia, with the exception of the northern quarter of the state. The driest areas were the south-central and southwest regions. Most of the rainfall this month came from thunderstorm activity, which is highly variable.
The highest monthly total precipitation from National Weather Service reporting stations was 2.93 inches in Atlanta (1.02 inches below normal). The lowest was in Brunswick at 0.58 inch (2.11 inches below normal). There were no daily rainfall records set in May.
Drought expanded across most of the state by the end of the month. The southern three-quarters of the state was in drought conditions by late May, and over 50 percent was considered to be in extreme drought.
Soil moisture conditions declined, as the lack of rainfall and high temperatures accelerated evapotranspiration and stressed plants. By the end of the month, more than 80 percent of subsurface soil moisture was reported as short to very short.
Through at least the middle of August, most of Georgia will likely be warmer and drier than normal. The weather outlook for the mountain counties is less certain.
Summer is the most difficult season to forecast for the Southeast. The El Niño-Southern Oscillation ocean-atmosphere pattern, or ENSO, gives atmospheric scientists good guidance on what weather to expect during winter and early spring. But during the summer, ENSO has little impact on temperatures and rainfall in the Southeast. Because of this, atmospheric scientists must use other information for forecasts.
One of the best indicators of climate over a period of several weeks is persistence. Persistence means that the current climate pattern will continue for a period of time. Since Georgia has been warmer and drier than normal since March, the persistence outlook is for Georgia to remain warmer and drier than normal for the next several weeks.
An additional indicator is the current drought. Even with normal temperatures and rain during the summer, the soils across Georgia continue to dry and stream flows drop. Even if Georgia receives normal rain this summer, the drought is expected to continue.
Drought and warmer-than-normal temperatures go together and typically reinforce each other. Dry soils mean that more energy from the sun heats the soil and the air above it. Warmer temperatures mean that the soils loose more water to evaporation and plant water use.
The summer outlook for the mountain counties is more uncertain. The mountains have received more rain than southern Georgia. The mountain counties are on a dividing line between a region to the south expecting a warmer and drier summer and a region to the north expecting a cooler and wetter-than-normal summer. The mountain counties will probably experience a warmer and drier-than-normal summer, but the confidence of this outlook is low.
By the middle of August, the tropics are usually becoming more active. Much of Georgia's late summer and fall rains come from tropical weather systems such as tropical storms or hurricanes.
If Georgia receives tropical weather, widespread temporary drought relief can occur. If the tropical activity occurs earlier than typical, then warmer and drier-than-normal weather could end earlier than expected this summer. If Georgia doesn't receive tropical weather this summer, then the current drought will persist into fall.
Up-to-date information on dry conditions across Georgia can be found at www.georgiadrought.org. Updated weather conditions can be found at www.georgiaweather.net.
-- Information from the State Climatologist Office was used in this article.