Georgia city asks residents to stop outdoor watering

As the drought continues to expand, one Georgia city has issued a voluntary outdoor watering ban.

The ban, which went into effect Monday, affects all customers of the city of Blairsville water system, Mayor Tim Conley told Channel 2 Action News.

Blairsville, like much of Georgia, is in an “extreme” drought, the second most severe drought category. Areas in an “extreme” drought expanded 6 percent last week, Channel 2 Action News meteorologist Katie Walls said. And areas in the worst category, “exceptional” drought, expanded 1 percent in northwest and west Georgia.

“Above average temperatures and below normal rainfall are to blame,” Walls said. “This pattern unfortunately is forecast to continue into January, according to the Climate Prediction Center.”

The voluntary ban in Blairsville, which is about about 100 miles northeast of downtown Atlanta, is in effect until further notice, Conley said.

Though metro Atlanta is in an “extreme” drought, no outdoor watering bans are in effect locally. Officials in Canton in Cherokee County just asked residents to refrain from watering lawns or washing cars because its water plant can’t provide enough water to meet the demand.

Canton gets its water from the Etowah River, which has seen decreasing water levels, Channel 2 reported.

Dry conditions have led metro Atlanta officials to warn residents about starting fires outdoors.

Fires can spread quickly during a drought, especially when wind picks up, which it did late last week, Walls said.

Georgia Forestry Commission Chief Ranger Mark Munns told Channel 2 he counted 41 fires in North Georgia alone.

“These are the worst conditions I’ve seen in this area in 25 years,” Munns said.

In a four-day period, water levels at Lake Lanier, Atlanta’s source of drinking water, dropped from 1,063 feet Friday to 1062.87 feet Monday. The full pool level is 1,071 feet.

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