Among other things the act will require by July 2012 the installation of high-efficiency features in all new residential, commercial and industrial construction. The act also grants incentives for some state agencies in pursuing grants toward reaching conservation goals.
Going into effect immediately, were matters of outdoor watering restrictions. These regulations, though similar to previous county requirements, may cause confusion but hopes to streamline enforcement and awareness across the state.
For customers of water systems permitted by the Environmental Protection Division, time restrictions are in place for daily outdoor watering.
Daily watering for the planting, growing, managing or maintaining of ground cover, shrubs, trees or other plants may only be done between the hours of 4 p.m. and 10 a.m. This regulation not only helps to increase water conservation, but it also is beneficial for plant life, said Gene Camp, director of the Bartow County Water Department.
"People shouldn't be watering between those hours anyway," Camp said. "It actually damages whatever you're watering because each one of those water drops is like a magnifying glass."
Watering during extreme heat and sun also diminishes its effect on plants due to rapid consumption through evaporation, Camp said.
Although not recommended, many exceptions apply allowing for outdoor watering without restrictions on time or day. This includes the watering of personal food gardens, new sod or seed for a period of 30 days after installation, hand watering with a hose using an automatic cutoff nozzle or handheld container.
Many other uses of water are not regulated by these restrictions, including most commercial, agricultural and resale pursuits. For a full list of allowances and more information on restrictions, visit www.gaepd.org/Documents/outdoorwater.html.
For other purposes, such as power washing and washing vehicles an odd-even schedule must be followed according to street address. Odd-numbered addresses can water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays while even-numbered and unnumbered addresses are allowed to water for those purposes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
The act will also call for action from medium and large public water entities to identify and fix leaks within their systems, which is regarded as one of the largest challenges in water conservation. Camp added that the Bartow County Water Department is currently mapping their entire system in order to locate and resolve any problems.
"This [act] makes it the same across the board for all water entities in the state. There's really no differentiation between north Georgia, south Georgia and metro-Atlanta area and the other areas. It just puts everybody under the same set of rules," Camp said. "I think in the long run it's going to be beneficial for stabilizing the water usage. People are going to be more aware of what they can do and how much they need to do. That's been one of the issues in the past during drought conditions or times when we had to impose restrictions. Those restrictions were released in any way that we thought people were using water because they could -- not necessarily because they needed to."
Examples of excessive use are commonly found with automatic irrigation systems that can be used inefficiently. Most of these instances are found when the system is operated in the rain or is allowed to spray on concrete. In both situations large quantities of water can be spent needlessly.
For general advice on conserving water, see the list of advice from Director of the Bartow County Environmental Management System Sheri Henshaw in today's paper.