After more than 42 days of no rain in metro Atlanta, scattered showers are expected Monday evening, with steadier rain overnight.
In Cobb County, the rain will be “the first rain in Cobb in 67 days, a record since record keeping began in the 1880s,” according to Kathy Nguyen, the county’s water department’s senior project manager.
“The county is well over a foot behind in rainfall. It will take a consistent change to our climate pattern for the drought level to be rescinded,” Nguyen said.
She said the rain is welcome news, but water restrictions will continue until there’s more rainfall.
Kevin Chambers with Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division said most of the state has had a major rainfall deficit over the past six months.
“Without significant, consistent rainfall that replenishes soil moisture, stream flows and local and regional water supplies, EPD anticipates maintaining the current drought response through at least the winter months,” Chambers said.
Gov. Nathan Deal raised Georgia's drought level for 52 counties including all of metro Atlanta on Nov. 17.
Outdoor watering is always limited in Georgia, whether there’s a drought or not, to between 4 p.m. and 10 a.m. Now, it is only allowed two days a week: on Wednesdays and Saturdays for even-numbered addresses, and Thursdays and Sundays for odd-numbered addresses.
Other prohibited outdoor water uses now include:
- Washing hard surfaces such as streets and sidewalks
- Water for ornamental purposes, such as fountains
- The use of fire hydrants, except for firefighting and public safety
- Non-commercial washing of vehicles
- Non-commercial pressure washing
- Fundraising car washes
City Of Atlanta
Atlanta resident Robert Flesch said he was planning to paint his house, but he needs to pressure wash his house first, which is not allowed under the new rules.
Some of the bushes outside his house have also died, but he said he’s going to follow the state's new water restrictions.
Lillian Govus with the city of Atlanta said most people understand the need for the water restrictions.
"No one can remember the last day that it rained,” Govus said. “Just driving over Lake Lanier, Chattahoochee you get a real visual of what we're facing."
The city of Atlanta is encouraging residents to call 3-1-1 when they see violations and have hired additional contractors to repair leaks in the city's water pipes. Restaurants in the city were asked not to offer water unless customers request it.
With water restrictions in place, metro Atlanta residents said they have been reporting neighbors who are breaking the rules.
Nguyen said there are also 45 field service and water efficiency staff members in Cobb County who will be issuing citations.
“We also have staff who are empowered to enforce the water ban,” Nguyen said. “They have door hangars in their trucks that have a label that says Water Ban Patrol. And when they are out and about the county doing their business, they will cite properties for violation."
Cobb residents get a first warning, but repeat offenders face fines of up to $500.
Fulton public works director David Clark said in addition to code enforcement officers, a couple dozen work crews will be patrolling the county.
“We’re going to ask our crews to be our eyes on the street,” Clark said. “We will first issue some warnings and then eventually if they don’t correct the behavior, they will be issued a citation.”
Fulton County is also giving ten of its senior supervisors in the water department the authority to issue tickets.
DeKalb County said it doesn’t have an enforcement team in place yet and is focusing on educating its residents about the rules and ways to conserve water.
“We’ve been asking our residents since July to voluntarily restrict their water on an even-odd schedule,” said Sarah Paige. “We just want to make sure it’s a message that has stuck before we begin enforcement.”
In North Georgia, where firefighters have been battling major wildfires, there could be some strong wind gusts Monday night and the rain is expected to help keep the fires contained.