Thursday, July 22, 2010

Abnormally dry conditions return to parts of Georgia

Following a wet winter and early spring, Georgia’s summer has been generally hot and dry. Much of northwest, north-central, southwest, east and coastal Georgia are abnormally dry. Over the past month, less than half of normal rainfall has fallen in some of these areas.

Over the past two months, many areas in Georgia have received only 70 percent of normal rainfall. For this month through July 19, Athens has received 42 percent, Augusta at Bush Field 29 percent, Columbus 44 percent and Savannah 44 percent of normal rainfall.

Counties in northwest and north-central Georgia currently classified as abnormally dry are Haralson, Polk, Bartow, Cherokee, north-Fulton, Forsyth, Dawson, Lumpkin and Union, inclusive.

In southwest Georgia, counties classified as abnormally dry are Muscogee, Chattahoochee, Stewart, Webster, Sumter, Crisp, Lee, Dougherty, Baker, Decatur, Grady, Thomas and Brooks, inclusive.

In coastal and east Georgia, counties classified as abnormally dry are Madison, Elbert, Clarke, Oglethorpe, Wilkes, Lincoln, Taliaferro, Warren, McDuffie, Columbia, Richmond, Burke, Wilcox, Ben Hill, Dodge, Telfair, Laurens, Wheeler, Montgomery, Treutlen, Emanuel, Jenkins, Candler, Evans, Screven, Bulloch, Effingham, Chatham, Bryan, Liberty, Long, McIntosh, Wayne, Glynn, Brantley and Camden.

Exceptions to the drying trend include much of the central and west piedmont and the north-central and south-central coastal plain. Atlanta has received 102 percent of normal rain over the past month. Macon has received 234 percent of normal rain over the past month.

With temperatures remaining in the 90s and low 100s with little or no rain, soils statewide will continue to dry. This will lead to increased plant stress.

As of late July, stream flows and reservoir layers are near normal to above normal across the state. Water resources are anticipated to be near normal over the next few months.

The ocean-atmosphere system has switched into a La Niña pattern. According to the Florida State University’s Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies, the La Niña pattern increases the likelihood that the East Coast will experience a land-falling tropical system compared to normal. If an active tropical storm season develops as forecasted, dry conditions could be relieved by summer and fall tropical systems.

However, the La Niña pattern is associated with dry and warm winters across much of the Southeast. This means that we may have minimal recharge of the hydrologic system this winter. This increases the probability of widespread and significant drought for next year. It is too early to tell exactly how the La Niña pattern will impact Georgia, but we need to be aware of the possible short-term tropical impacts and the long-term drought impacts.

Up-to-date information on dry conditions across Georgia can be found at Updated weather conditions can be found at

By David E. Stooksbury
University of Georgia

Fayette Front Page
Georgia Front Page
Follow us on Twitter:  @GAFrontPage

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Governor Announces $4.2 Million in Water and Sewer Infrastructure Projects for Three Georgia Communities

Governor Sonny Perdue announced today that the GEFA executive committee approved the financing for three environmental infrastructure projects totaling $4.2 million. The executive committee approved the commitments to help finance water and sewer infrastructure improvements for the city of Dublin, Nicholson Water Authority in Jackson County and Oconee County.

“Investment in our state’s water and sewer infrastructure stimulates the economy, promotes the stewardship of our natural resources, and helps to meet Georgia’s future water needs,” said Governor Perdue. “The projects approved today will improve water system efficiency and will ensure clean and safe water.”

“The water, sewer and solid waste programs administered by GEFA assist local governments with improving their environmental infrastructure,” said GEFA Executive Director Phil Foil. “Financing water, sewer and solid waste projects encourages economic growth and the stewardship of our environment.”

Foil expressed appreciation to Governor Perdue and to the members of the General Assembly for their support. He credited Governor Perdue’s commitment to helping Georgia cities and counties finance infrastructure development as one of the main contributors to GEFA’s success.

“GEFA financing for water, sewer and solid waste infrastructure helps communities in all areas of the state,” said Gerald Thompson, chairman of the GEFA board of directors and mayor of the city of Fitzgerald. “The projects that we agreed to finance today demonstrate that GEFA is investing in communities that are willing to invest in themselves.”

GEFA helps communities prepare for economic growth and development through the provision of low-interest loans. The Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) is a federal loan program administered by GEFA for wastewater infrastructure and water pollution abatement projects. Eligible projects include a wide variety of storm water and wastewater collection and treatment projects. The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) is a federal loan program administered by GEFA for water infrastructure projects. Eligible projects include public health-related water supply construction.

Below are details of the loans approved today:

City of Dublin

The city of Dublin was approved for a Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) loan of $2,040,000 to finance replacing and repairing sanitary sewer line and approximately 50 manholes. The city will pay three percent interest on the 20-year loan for $2,040,000. The total project cost is $2,400,000 with the city receiving $360,000 in principal forgiveness.

Nicholson Water Authority

The Nicholson Water Authority was approved for a Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) loan of $700,000 to finance new wells and well rehabilitation; replacing a water main; storage improvements; installing new meters, including reading and billing software; and training. The Authority will pay three percent interest on a 20-year loan for $700,000. The total project cost is $1,000,000, with the Authority receiving $300,000 in principal forgiveness.

Oconee County

Oconee County was approved for a Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) loan of $1,530,000 to finance replacing sewer pipe, deteriorating manholes, and an aging pump station to eliminate leaks in the system. The County will pay three percent interest on the 20-year loan. The total project cost is $1,800,000, with Oconee County receiving $270,000 in principal forgiveness.

Cities and counties interested in more information regarding GEFA loans should visit or call (404) 584-1000.

About the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (
The Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) provides energy, land and water resources resulting in an improved quality of life for today and future generations. GEFA is the lead agency for state energy programs and is home to the Center of Innovation for Energy; directs the Georgia Land Conservation Program and maintains state-owned fuel storage tanks; and offers financing for reservoir and water supply, water quality, storm water and solid waste infrastructure. Since 1985, GEFA has approved financial commitments totaling more than $2 billion to local governments, businesses and nonprofit organizations. For more information, visit

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Summertime heat hits Georgia hard

The heat was on in Georgia in June. And pop-up thunderstorms scattered rainfall and wind damage across the state.

Temperatures were warmer than normal everywhere across the state. In Atlanta, the monthly average temperature was 81.4 degrees F (4.6 degrees above normal), in Athens 80.6 degrees (4.3 degrees above normal), Columbus 82.7 degrees (3.5 degrees above normal), Macon 82 degrees (4 degrees above normal), Savannah 83.6 degrees (4.8 degrees above normal), Brunswick 82.9 degrees (3.5 degrees above normal), Alma 82.3 degrees (3 degrees above normal), Valdosta 83 degrees (4.6 degrees above normal) and Augusta 82.8 degrees (5.3 degrees above normal).

Soaring into the 100s

Record-high minimum temperatures were set in Savannah and Augusta June 14. The 102 degrees in Savannah beat the old record of 100 set in 1921. The 103-degree measurement in Augusta surpassed the old record of 101 set in 2000. Augusta also had a record daily high temperature June 15 with 104 degrees, breaking the old record of 100 set in 1971.

Atlanta recorded its highest June average minimum temperature since records started at the airport in 1928. The average daytime high was the seventh hottest. It was the area's second hottest June, beat only by June 1952.

Rainfall above and below normal

Parts of the state received above-normal rainfall. However, almost half the state experienced below-normal precipitation, particularly in a narrow band along the coast and in the northwestern third of the state.

The highest monthly rainfall total from National Weather Service reporting stations was 8.78 inches in Alma (3.29 inches above normal). The lowest was in Brunswick at 1.42 inches (3.63 inches below normal). Valdosta received 4.52 inches (.84 inch below normal), Macon 5.73 inches (2.19 inches above normal), Athens 4.55 inches (.61 inch above normal), Atlanta 5.21 inches (1.58 inches above normal), Columbus 2.45 inches (1.06 inches below normal), Savannah 5.79 inches (.30 inch above normal) and Augusta 2.19 inches (2 inches below normal).

Record daily rainfalls were set in Alma on June 4 and June 30. June 4, Alma received 1.05 inches, surpassing the old record of .85 inch set in 1995. June 30, Alma received 1.39 inches, eliminating the old record of .96 inch set in 1999.

The highest single-day rainfall from the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network stations was 5.13 inches near Manor in Ware County in southeast Georgia June 30. An observer in Tift County received 4.25 inches that day. The highest monthly rainfall total in June was 10.09 inches from an observer northeast of Pearson in Atkinson County.

Lightning kills one

There were no tornadoes reported in Georgia last month. However, severe weather hit somewhere in the state 21 separate days in the month. Several Georgians were injured by lightning. One teen was killed in Henry County south of Atlanta June 30 when lightning struck near where he was standing outside his home. Lightning was also reported to have caused several house fires. Another person was injured June 5 when a roof of a pole barn collapsed near Lovett in Laurens County.

Heat stressed crops particularly in areas that did not receive normal rainfall. In the northeast part of the state, wine grapes were affected by the heat, and in other areas corn and wheat were stressed. However, in spite of the heat, most crops continue to be in good condition.

By Pam Knox
University of Georgia

Fayette Front Page
Georgia Front Page
Follow us on Twitter:  @GAFrontPage

Monday, July 5, 2010

Water restrictions loosened in Georgia

New watering rules give Georgians more flexibility in their watering habits. Effective June 1, they can now run automated irrigation systems, lawn sprinklers or water by hand daily as long as they do so from 4 p.m. until 10 a.m.

Under the Georgia Water Stewardship Act (SB370), the new rules state that outdoor water can be applied daily during the specified hours for the purposes of planting, growing, managing or maintaining ground cover, trees, shrubs or other plants.

What is called gray water or reclaimed waste water can be used any time for irrigation. Water from private wells or surface water used by the owner or operator of such wells or surface water is also allowed any time.

Water can also be applied with no time or day limits for the following outdoor uses:
Agricultural operations.
Personal food gardens.
New or replanted plant, seed or turf in landscapes, golf courses, or sports turf fields during installation and for a period of 30 days immediately following installation.
Drip irrigation or soaker hoses.
Hand-watering with a hose with automatic cutoff or handheld container (including chemical applications).
Horticultural crops held for sale, resale or installation.
Athletic fields, golf courses or public recreational areas.
Installation, maintenance or calibration of irrigation systems.

The odd-even day schedule remains in effect for nonlandscape outdoor water use like pressure washing by homeowners, car washing at home or for charity, hosing driveways, outdoor cleaning or topping-off pools.

Even addresses may water on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. Odd addresses water on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

Even though Georgia’s drought is in the past and the water restrictions have been loosened, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension experts encourage homeowners to keep a water-saving mindset.

“During the summer months, outdoor municipal water use increases between 30 to 50 percent,” said UGA Cooperative Extension turfgrass specialist Clint Waltz. “Most of this is from outdoor uses like filling swimming pools, washing cars and watering lawns and landscapes.”

To conserve water, Waltz offers homeowners the following tips:
Select plants that match light conditions and require less water.
Match surface and soil drainage conditions to plant moisture requirements.
Choose plants that grow well in your area.
Preserve established plants. They have an extensive root system and require less water than newly planted ones.
Space plants with their mature size in mind to reduce competition.
Concentrate seasonal color in small, high-impact areas to reduce overall water requirements.
Avoid constructing raised beds under trees due to root competition for water.
Develop a landscape plan before designing an irrigation system.
Incorporate shade trees in the landscape to reduce evaporative water loss.
Select and group plants according to their water needs.
Divide the landscape into water-use zones. Avoid small, irregular-shaped island plantings in turfgrass areas. They are difficult to irrigate.
Consider irrigation sprinklers when designing turfgrass areas or planting beds.
Move or eliminate plants not suited to existing site.

For more information, contact your local UGA Extension office at 1-800-ASK-UGA1.

By Sharon Dowdy
University of Georgia

Fayette Front Page
Georgia Front Page
Follow us on Twitter:  @GAFrontPage