By Rachel Wigington,
County Extension Agent
(October 19, 2016) As the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension and the local water departments in the counties continue to work together on water-related issues, we have discovered that there are two entities that monitor drought levels throughout the state – the National Drought Mitigation Center and the Environmental Protection Division.
The National Drought Mitigation Center developed the Drought Monitor to keep the public informed of changes in drought and provides measures that the public can take to prepare and ease the societal vulnerability.
The Drought Monitor is the tool used by the Farm Service Agency to determine whether or not the agency can provide assistance to farmers during droughts. Due to farmers using more water than a typical homeowner, it is much easier for their drought level classifications to evolve faster than homeowners. While the Drought Monitor does in fact have Pickens County at a Level 3 Drought it is only in regards to farmers. This classification allows farmers to receive aid from the Farm Service Agency.
The other monitor, the Environmental Protection Division (EPD), monitors drought according to homeowner use. Currently, the EPD has declared Pickens County homeowners at a Level 1 Drought. While homeowners should always practice the best methods to conserve water, residents are not subject to water restrictions in a Level 1 classification. If, in the future, the EPD classifies Pickens County as a Level 3 Drought, residents would be informed by the county about any water restrictions. These water restrictions are listed under the State Drought Plan for Georgia (released by the EPD in 2015), and they can be found online at the National Drought Mitigation Center as well as the Environmental Protection Division. The EPD works with county water departments and keeps them informed of any changes in regards to residents and homeowners. The Drought Monitor keeps people like farmers informed of any changes.
We apologize for any confusion that the former article may have caused. Restrictions for homeowners are not enforced at this time, but it is always encouraged to practice the best water conservation methods when using water in the home.