Water You Think About Reuse?

Water You Think About Reuse?

wh-1Emory University has an on-site water recycling system unlike any other in the nation. Emory’s WaterHub uses sustainable technology which mimics natural processes to clean wastewater for non-potable uses such as heating and cooling, irrigation, and toilet flushing. Team Water from the Athens-Clarke County Water Conservation Office took a trip to Atlanta, GA for a sneak peak of the Hub’s inner-workings. Let’s dive in to the details!

Wastewater Source

The water treated at the WaterHub is diverted from an on-campus sewer pipe to the greenhouse portion of the water reclamation site. The water gets screened to remove any non-bio-degradables then goes through additional cleaning processes.

Hydroponic Treatment System

wh-4A variety of low-maintenance tropical plants are featured in the greenhouse. Their dense root systems are submerged in the wastewater and provide excellent habitat for waste-treating microorganisms to thrive. Microorganisms play a huge role in reclaiming wastewater; by consuming excess nutrients, they biologically purify the water. It is extremely important to maintain an environment that is beneficial to the microorganisms so they can break down pollutants in the water. In addition to clinging onto plant roots, microorganisms benefit from the added surface area of a BioWeb textile media (shown to the left) and honeycomb-shaped plastic pellets that move freely in the water as biofilm carriers. Microorganisms work efficiently to break down organic waste when given appropriate living conditions.

Reciprocating Wetland Technologywh-5

Tidal marsh ecosystems are mimicked at the WaterHub to provide alternating anoxic and aerobic treatment conditions. Wastewater is filled and drained in adjacent bio-cells that contain gravel. The gravel serves as microorganism habitat during this stage. The recurrent fill-and-drain sequence allows control of microbial processes.

Clarifying, Filtering, & Disinfecting

After the microorganisms complete their part of the treatment, the nearly-clean water flows to a clarifier tank and disk filter where any remaining solids, nutrients, and color are removed from the water. Some microorganisms are taken from the clarifier tank and relocated to the beginning of treatment where they repeat the process of breaking down bio solids and sludge. Once the water flows over the disk filters, only trace amounts of microorganisms remain. Ultraviolet disinfection disrupts the DNA of remaining microorganisms, making the water safe to use for non-potable demands. The ready-to-use water is delivered through a series of purple pipes to differentiate the supply from wastewater and drinking water.

Recycling Water Is A No-Brainer!

Custom, satellite wastewater reclamation facilities like the Emory WaterHub are efficient and cost-effective. Water naturally recycles in the environment, but why not extend the life cycle of water even further like the WaterHub does? On-site water reclamation reduces withdrawals from sensitive ecosystems and eliminates a significant portion of the water distribution system, thus reducing a community’s carbon and water footprints.

Let’s get on board with sustainable water reuse and make a greater effort to use water wisely! For more information about the WaterHub and Sustainable Water, visit here.

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Today’s blog was written by Emily Bilcik, Graduate Assistant at the WCO.

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New Water Type Pokémon Have Evolved! Catch ’em All!

promolabel_blue_lookI am one of the millions of people choosing to live in augmented reality. I downloaded Pokémon GO. While racking up steps to hatch an egg (Really? Another Pidgey?!?), my mind wandered to what the world would be like if Pokémon were real. How could we put them to good use? Instead of battling other Pokémon , could they battle real world problems?
Clean water and the lack thereof is a real problem everyone on the planet either faces or may face in the future. Practicing water-efficiency is an action we can all take to prolong our local water supplies. Imagine if Pokémon could be used to protect the future of our water. With just a few carefully trained water type Pokémon , they could evolve to earn the WaterSense badge and become shining examples of water efficiency.

Here are four Pokémon I believe would be perfect for such evolution.

Mega Blastoise
WSBlastoise-MegaYes, this is the final form of Squirtle after a Mega Evolution, but let’s take this guy even further. With mighty water cannons on each arm and a giant cannon on its back, it is the perfect Pokémon for irrigating the yard. An average of 50% of water used for watering yards and gardens is lost to evaporation. Not with this WaterSense labeled Pokémon. The Mega Blastoise’s cannons are extremely accurate. Use this Pokémon to deliver water evenly to your landscape with a constant flow rate. Remember, he only comes out between 4:00PM – 10:00AM, the best times to water your yard for less evaporation. Mega Blastoise won’t back down to the extreme Solar Powers of the sun or of Mega Charizard! See for yourself:

Octillery
Install one of these in every bathroom in your house. The need to remember to turn off the water whenwsOctillery_Dream brushing your teeth becomes a thing of the past with a handy Octillery. It can use one of its eight tentacles to shut it off for you. And that’s not all it can do. Use Octillery’s ink spurting ability to help you test your toilets for leaks. Put a little ink in the back of the toilet tank. Wait about ten minutes, then check the bowl to see if any ink seeped into the toilet bowl. If it did, you and Octillery found a leak. Put the powerful yellow suction cups on this WaterSense Pokémon to work and to help check, twist, and replace any leaks you find. Octillery’s ability to save and protect our water will amaze you:

Golduck
Evolve this Pokémon and use its psychic powers to turn on and off your sprinkler system. Golduck uses wsGolduck_Dreamthe weather in your area to decide if the sprinkler should be on, just like a WaterSense labeled irrigation controller. When you see the red gem on its forehead start to glow, don’t get worried. This simply means it is sensing the amount of moisture in the soil. If the soil is moist, the sprinkler is off. Another great benefit to evolving this Pokémon to WaterSense status is it can act as a rain sensor. No more will you suffer the embarrassment of being “that neighbor” by having your sprinklers going while it is raining out. See the transformation happen before your own eyes…

 

Vaporeon
Certainly everyone has captured an Eevee or two. Expose one to a Water Stone and it evolves into a wsVaporeonVaporeon. Another name used for it on the trademark filings is “Showers,” making this the perfect Pokémon to evolve into a WaterSense Pokémon. If you are hyped about Vaporeon, bring it into the shower with you. Attach it to your traditional showerhead and it will slow the flow of your showerhead from 2.5 gallons per minute to 1.5 gallons a minute. The best part is, you won’t even notice a difference in the water pressure or spray coverage; that is how all WaterSense labeled showerheads earn their prestigious label. Check out how excited Pokémon Trainers get when they find a Vaporeon, a Pokémon capable of uniting us all in the quest for clean water:

So these are a few Pokémon I would use to make the world a better place.  How would you have them evolve?

Summer DIY: Water Edition

Summer DIY: Water Edition

This week’s blog post was written by Camilla Sherman, Water Conservation Office intern and avid DIYer.

Do it yourself, DIY for short, is a phrase many arts-and-crafters love. The term DIY can be found littered throughout Pinterest and can act as a call to action for crafters who want to take on a new task. However, you do not have to be artistic or even creating a craft to DIY!

Water is the basis of life on earth, the basis for most man-made materials, and can be the basis for all types of DIY projects. I am going to share a few water based DIY activities for the summer that will help you realize how cool and important water truly is while having fun. By the end of this blog post, you will be ready to become a water DIY extraordinaire!

To start out our water DIY journey, here is an easy and fun craft for kids. You can make a washable Sidewalk Chalk Paint for your kids to enjoy this summer.

SidewalkChalkPaintRecipeALittlePinchofPerfectsquare2copy

Materials:

  • 1/2 Cup water
  • 1/2 Cup cornstarch
  • Food Coloring
  • Containers for your paint (Could use an old SunnyD bottle)

Step 1: Mix all the ingredients in the container.

Aaaaand that’s it! You now have a self-made washable sidewalk paint for your kids to play with this summer.

To go along with playing outside this summer, you may want to make a Mosquito Repellant Mason Jar to keep those pesky insects from ruining the fun.

mason_jar_mosquito_repellant

Materials:

  • 1-2 Lemon Wedges
  • 1-2 Lime Wedges
  • A couple sprigs of Rosemary
  • Water (fill remainder of jar with water)
  • Active Ingredient: Lemon Eucalyptus oil (7-10 drops)
  • Floating Tea Candles

Step 1: Mix all of the ingredients in the mason jar.

Step 2: Top off the mixture with the floating tea candle and light it.

Let this sit outside in the area you plan to use for a few minutes beforehand and then enjoy your mosquito-free and fragrant space.

For those of you that have always wanted to be artistic but felt you lacked the talent, here is a fun and easy art project. Make your own Marble Mug with water and nail polish to pass the time or give as gifts this summer!

water marble mugs-1

Materials:

  • Disposable container
  • Nail polish
  • Wood coffee stirrer or toothpick
  • Mug
  • Sponge brush
  • Glossy acrylic sealer

Step 1: Fill the disposable container with warm water. Drip nail polish into container and allow pockets to form.

Step 2: Quickly use stirrer to expand the pockets of nail polish. step-2 for marble mug

Step 3: Dip your mug in a circular motion to allow the nail polish to paint the mug.

Step 4: Let dry. Then add a glossy acrylic sealer with a sponge brush just over the design. You might need to add more layers of sealer, depending on your design. Be sure to let dry between applications.

Tip: Hand wash this mug with mild soap and warm water because it is no longer dishwasher safe.

For those of you who love science, this Salt Water Etching technique is perfect for you! You can use this technique on your reusable water bottle to stay hydrated in style this summer.

saltwateretchingtechnique

Materials:

  • Stainless steel or aluminum water bottle
  • Pattern to be etched (Can be made from vinyl, a stencil, or even duct tape)
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 9V battery
  • Q-tips
  • 2 wires with alligator clips

metal-etching-process-3-of-6Step 1: Pick your design to etch onto your water bottle and adhere it to the bottle.

Step 2: Mix 1/2 c. of water with the 1/2 t. salt in a jar and stir.
Add a bunch of Q-tips to the jar.

Step 3: Hook one wire from the positive terminal of the battery to the metal of the water bottle.

metal-etching-process-5-of-6Step 4: Hook the other wire from the negative terminal of the battery to the wet end of one of the Q-tips. The clip has to be on the wet part of the Q-tip.

Step 5: Place the Q-tip on the bottle where you want the design to appear.  Move the Q-tip around to dab the entire area. The top of the Q-tip will become discolored as metal is transferred from the bottle to the Q-tip. So replace the Q-tip often.

Step 6: Try to cover the area evenly.  When you think it is done, dry off the design and remove the stencil.  Wash the outside of the bottle to remove any remaining liquid.

You just customized your reusable water bottle yourself to create a work of art!

My favorite find for water DIYs is the Edible Water Bottle. To make your very own water-droplet-resembling edible water bottle you will need a few things that you might not normally have lying around the house.

edible water bottle

Materials:

  • 1 g of sodium alginate (a natural substance derived from brown seaweed)
  • 5 g of food-grade calcium lactate (a type of salt that can be found commonly in cheese and gum)
  • A bowl filled with 1 cup of drinking water
  • A bowl filled with 4 cups of water
  • A bowl filled with water for rinsing off the “bottles”
  • An immersion blender (you could also use a regular blender)
  • A deep spoon like a measuring spoon

STEP 1: Add 1 g of sodium alginate to 1 cup of water. Then use an immersion blender to dissolve the sodium alginate. Once dissolved, set the mixture aside and let sit to allow any air bubbles to rise up and out.

STEP 2: Add 5 g of calcium lactate to 4 cups of water and mix well using a spoon.

STEP 3: Scoop up some of your sodium alginate solution using a deep spoon. Very carefully plop the sodium alginate into the calcium lactate bath. Repeat with the remaining sodium alginate but do not crowd the bath.

STEP 4: Stir the sodium alginate bubbles very gently for 3 minutes.

STEP 5: After 3 minutes, remove the “bottles” from the calcium lactate bath using a slotted spoon and transfer them to a water bath to stop the reaction.

Congratulations! You just made a zero waste water “bottle” that you can eat. How cool is that?

Little Lily Hops to Rome for Drinking Fountains and Kitties

Little Lily Hops to Rome for Drinking Fountains and Kitties

Today’s blog was written by Little Lily with the help of Marilyn Hall, Water Conservation Coordinator

Last month I was lucky enough to hop over to Italy.  I was curious about how Italians relate to their water.  Do they conserve like we do here in Athens?  Do they have aging infrastructure problems like in so many U.S. cities?  Here is some of what I learned in my pad hop to Rome, Italy.

This works the best if you click on the first photo and scroll through them.  I hope you like my pictures!

If you enjoy the photos from my trip to Italy, you’ll also want to see when I went to Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic.  I took a long look at toilets there.

 

Water Conservation for Every Season

This week’s blog post is written by Caroline Cummings, WCO intern and someone who’s not sure how to dress for 30-degree mornings and 65-degree afternoons.

The transition from winter to spring in the southeast is always…interesting. The weather is unpredictable to say the least, considering this time two weeks ago it was heavily snowing yet last week it was in the 70s. In Athens, we are “blessed” with the opportunity to experience all seasons in a short amount of time—in as little as two weeks if we’re “lucky.” It can be hard to keep up with all these fluctuations, so here are some tips on how to conserve and appreciate water in every season!

Winter-

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  • Winterize your outdoor pipes: wrap in insulation to keep outdoor pipes from bursting when temperatures drop below freezing.
  • Drip faucets: this may seem counter-intuitive, but by keeping faucets lightly dripping through the coldest hours, you can prevent bursting of pipes which can waste up to TWO bathtubs full of water!
  • Insulate hot water pipes: this will help keep pipes warmer and allow showers and sinks to produce hot water faster, saving many gallons of water. This will also help winterize these pipes and prevent bursts.
  • PLAY in the snow!

Spring-

Jamie Calkin crop final_thumb

Jamie Calkin. 2012 ACC WCO Roll Out the Barrels

  • Prioritize outdoor watering needs: take time to figure out which areas of your yard (depending on what is planted there) will need the most watering. Focus your water usage on these areas and let natural rainfall take care of the rest!
  • Weed gardens: as weed populations begin to grow with the rain and warmer weather of spring, make sure to manage them by weeding your gardens. This will prevent the weeds from stealing water away from your other plants.
  • Capture and recycle rainwater: using rain barrels (can be bought at Walmart, Home Depot, Amazon, etc): capture all the excess rain to use for future plant watering or car washes.
  • Use your creativity to decorate your rain barrel: they aren’t just functional pieces of equipment, but artwork for your home!

Summer-

  • Wait until the cooler hours to water lawn: to prevent water loss from evaporation, water your lawns and gardens during the cooler morning hours. This will also help prevent fungal g5b9085241875855d969a8b0be49ebfd7rowth that may occur at dusk and throughout the night.
  • Drink from reusable bottle: we are bound to get thirsty in the hotter months. Every time you use a reusable bottle, you can help save the 3 liters of water that it takes to make a 1 liter disposable bottle.
  • Use a soaker hose/sprinkler wand instead of standard hose: particular hose attachments can help distribute water more efficiently and help prevent loss from mist, runoff, and evaporation.
  •  Go swimming, rafting or kayaking: get outdoors and cool off with some fun water-related activities!

Fall-

  • Be aware of plant water needs: as the temperatures begin to drop, the water needs of your plants drop with them.
  • Do laundry only when the load is full: as you start to wear more layers, be sure to only do laundry when you have enough clothes to make a full load. One load requires around 30 gallons of water so make sure to use them wisely. anigif_enhanced-9469-1436632452-3
  • Sweep with a broom, not a hose: as the leaves begin to fall, keep your driveways and paths clear by using brooms to sweep up the leaves instead of spraying off with a hose.
  • Hike to nearby waterfalls and enjoy the view: check out this link! Georgia Waterfall Hikes

 

 

Conservation: Music to Our Ears

This week’s post was written by Caroline Cummings, WCO Intern and music junkie. 

Living in Athens, we are lucky enough to experience firsthand some of the best music in the country. Whether it’s nationally acclaimed rock legends like R.E.M., local college kids that like Chinese food (hint: the B-52s), or the street performers that can turn anything, including buckets, into instruments, there’s no denying that the people of Athens know their music. Assuming you at least listen to, like, or maybe even LOVE music like I do, music festivals seem like the ideal place to make our dreams come true; it is important, however, that we are aware of the impact our beloved music festivals have on our environment, especially our water.

It’s no surprise that thousands of people gathered into one venue produces waste, uses water, and leaves behind a nasty carbon footprint. What is pleasantly surprising, however, is the initiative many festivals are taking to reduce their waste production and water consumption, as well as promote sustainability in the lives of their attendees. With the recent release of many festival lineups, ‘tis the season to make travel arrangements and purchase tickets to see your favorite bands. Lucky for us, there are festivals all over the country covering all genres that are determined to make a positive impact on our water conservation and sustainability efforts.

1. Tortuga Music Festival, April 15-17, 2016

rtoLocated in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, TortugaFest is one of the most environmentally conscious festivals of its kind. With a mostly country, rock, and roots lineup and headliners such as Blake Shelton, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Tim McGraw, Tortuga Fest has attracted like-minded fans from across the country to enjoy a weekend at the beach. Aside from guaranteeing proper waste disposal with the help of the Clean Vibes organization, Tortuga puts an emphasis on water conservation and protection. Portions of ticket purchases are donated to Rock the Ocean, an organization consisting of 30+ groups that promote conservation of our oceans through interactive activities, events, and educational programs such as funding field trips to local waterways for low-income students. Rock the Ocean’s presence at the festival is almost as big as the bands playing there; they set up an entire “Conservation Village” within the festival grounds. Here, festival-goers can learn ways to conserve water, reduce pollution in the oceans, and even win a chance to meet one of the headliners of the festival. The goal of Conservation Village, best stated by the festival itself, is to “allow fans to leave the festival with an ‘awakened consciousness’ of the issues our oceans and marine environments are facing, and most importantly, what they, the fans, can do to make a difference!” Who doesn’t love an awakened conscience?

http://www.tortugamusicfestival.com/conservation/

2. Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, June 9-12, 2016

Named for the French words “bonne” and “rue,” meaning “good” and “street,” respectively, Bonnaroo, located in Manchester, Tennessee, is considered the “best on the streets” by many festival-goers. While it’s hard to beat seeing artists such as Pearl Jam, Tame Impala, Dead & Company, plus ~100 more musicians and comedians, many other large festivals also can’t hold a candle to Bonnaroo’s sustainability efforts. By partnering up with Rock the Earth and Carbon Shredders, Bonnaroo teaches its attendees the basics of conservation of natural resources and leading a more sustainable life, including reducing water consumption. Paired up with Carbon Shredders is We Are Neutral, an organization that works with large-scale events to reduce their large-scale energy and water usage, which has made Bonnaroo one of the greenest festivals in the world. The festival also teams up with Clean Vibes to ensure proper waste disposal to divert from landfills and prevent pollution. Similar to our office’s Certified Blue program, Bonnaroo also implements aBroo15_News_Post_Sust “Sustainable Vendors” badge of honor.  Vendors that are labeled with this badge use locally grown products and make conscious efforts to decrease their waste production and resource consumption. If the Certified Blue-like program at ‘Roo isn’t enough to draw you away from Athens for a couple days (which it should be!), consider going to see some of our very own local bands perform at this festival. Past lineups have included Athens bands Drive-by Truckers, Neutral Milk Hotel, Futurebirds, Reptar, and Radiolucent.

http://www.bonnaroo.com/get-involved/sustainability

3. Rock the Green Music Festival, September 17, 2016

A music festival completely built on sustainability, Rock the Green has definitely lived up to its name. Located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, this festival has featured nationally recognized artists like Third Eye Blind, Ben Folds, and Atlas Genius. Alongside these well-known performances, Rock the Green also hosts and promotes many local artists, a notion we Athenians embrace. Although the 2016 lineup has yet to be released, it’s safe to say this festival will not disappoint musically or conservationally. Rock the Green 2016 will be located at a new venue in Milwaukee’s Reed Street Yards, an eco-industrial park located on Freshwater Way. When not in use for the festival, the park focuses on Milwaukee’s growing water industry and the technologies that help ensure water is both abundant and clean. Due to the new venue, Rock the Green 2016 will also feature another welcome change: a focus on water conservation. Along with creating near-zero waste, Rock the Green is working with the 15222879439_09af23833b_bMilwaukee Water Council to promote freshwater sustainability at the festival using Reed Street Yards’s research and initiatives as a basis. Rock the Green’s mission statement perfectly sums up what this festival is all about: “to educate and empower the community to take actionable steps to live sustainably.”

http://www.rockthegreen.com/rock-the-green-festival-returns-september-17th-2016

4. Lightning in a Bottle, May 25-30, 2016

Last on our list but certainly not least is the festival Lightning in a Bottle, which will take place in Bradley, California this Memorial Day weekend. Described as “a fourth dimension where only the weird and wonderful flourish,” Lightning in a Bottle is a conglomeration of music, yoga, art, education, and sustainability. This summer it will host artists such as Chet Faker, Grimes, and Jamie XX. Of course here at the ACC Water Conservation Office, we like to focus on the sustainability aspect, and this festival does not disappoint. With an atmosphere dedicated to community, Lightning in a Bottle makes sure to keep the community surrounding the festival clean, happy, and sustainable. The festival has put in place several water initiatives that promote conservation, including an on-site environmental impact assessment and educational signs to encourage reduction in water use. The impact assessment lets festival staff and attendees rest assured that no waste from the festival negatively impacts nearby Lake San Antonio while the signs within the festival grounds educate attendees on things such as the benefits of low-flow toilets, water fountains, and shower taps. They also make use of the festival’s grey water by spraying it on the grounds to prevent dust and air pollution. Aside from all the amazing water initiatives the festival has implemented, they also do their part to reduce festival energy costs and create a net-zero energy usage through carbon offsets. The main goal of what they callethos “Ethos” (their green initiative) at Lightning in a Bottle is “… to change lives. We want people to not only be inspired at the festival, but to leave and make a big difference at home in their communities.”

http://2015.lightninginabottle.org/ethos/

From home- If you’re unable to make it to any of these festivals this year, there is another awesome way music can help you conserve water from home. Try picking out a favorite song to play in the shower and use it as a timer to take quicker showers and save more water, but don’t forget to sing along!

GA EPD: The Time to Prepare For Drought is Now

This week’s blog is written by Marilyn Hall, Water Conservation Coordinator for Athens-Clarke County, Georgia

We are in between droughts.  There is no better time to prepare.  

To help water providers prepare for the next inevitable drought, the Georgia DNR Board adopted rules that replaced the Outdoor Water Use Rules in August of 2015.  As far as I can tell there has been little, if any, information developed to help utilities, irrigation/ landscape professionals, and other water users implement these rules.  They are confusing, but in a nutshell, the new “Drought Management” rule does four things: creates provisions for a drought response committee; requires pre-drought mitigation strategies; introduces new drought indicators and triggers; and requires a series of drought response strategies.

There are substantial changes in the new rules that require new and specific actions.  The rule introduces three new drought levels.  The first level requires a little bit of public notice and the third requires nearly an outdoor watering ban plus mandatory drought surcharges and other actions that many utilities and water users may find challenging and should prepare for.

In order to make sense of the new rules and how they will impact utilities and water users, the Georgia Water Wise Council has enlisted the assistance of law students at the University of Georgia to develop a Guidance Document for the Drought Rules. This guidance should be ready in March, 2016.  In the meantime it is important for Utilities to start preparing for some of the requirements now.  The most urgent of which is conservation rates.

Local water systems that do not have water rate conservation pricing in place are required to develop a “drought surcharge program” by June 24, 2016.  These surcharge rates would be required under a Level 3 Drought Response.  EPD considers the surcharge to be a “temporary price incentive for customers to reduce water demand during a declared drought”(Responses to Comments Received During the Public Comment Period April 13, 2015-May 13, 2015 ).  Some systems that demonstrate to EPD that their billing systems are unable to charge distinctive rates or are unable to apply a surcharge rate only to the volumetric portion of the bill may be exempt from this requirement.

To learn more about conservation rates look at the EPD Guidance Document prepared in August 2007, “Conservation-Oriented Rate Structures” (http://www1.gadnr.org/cws/Documents/Conservation_Rate_Structures.pdf)

Recognizing that at any given time we are either in a drought or in between droughts, EPD introduces a “predrought” condition with this rule. During predrought times the odd even schedule does not apply. The rule is consistent with the Water Stewardship Act and allows for outdoor water use 7 days a week after 4:00 PM and before 10:00 AM.  Exemptions like drip irrigation, wells, food gardens, etc have not changed.

The predrought mitigation strategies apply only to outdoor water uses for the purposes of planting, growing, managing, or maintaining ground cover, trees, shrubs, or other plants. This leaves predrought restrictions on outdoor water uses such as pressure washing, swimming pools, fountains, etc unclear.   It is up to local governments to apply limits to these water uses during non-drought periods if needed to ensure drought resilience. (This is just my take on this, don’t modify your ordinances before confirming with EPD.)

Drought declaration decisions will be made by EPD using a set of drought indicators.  There are three Drought Response Levels that build on one another.  In other words, Level 2 requires that both Level 1 and Level 2 requirements be implemented.  All that is required in Level 1 is the implementation of a minimal public information campaign that only includes public notice regarding drought conditions.  If your area is entering a drought it would be a good idea to ramp up your public outreach efforts above and beyond the minimum requirement.  A good source of water conservation materials for customers is EPA’s WaterSense Program.

Drought Response Level 2 brings back the familiar odd/even schedule.  Outdoor irrigation can occur on Thursday and Sunday for odd addresses and on Wednesday and Saturday for even addresses. Watering cannot occur between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM.  All the non-drought exemptions still apply.  For example, drip irrigation and watering of plants for sale can go on without any restrictions.  Drought Response Level 2 is where the non-plant related outdoor water use restrictions kick in.  Using water to wash hard surfaces, fountains, and car washing are not allowed.  This is also when the Drought Response Menu comes into play.  Water providers must implement four or more of the menu items and submit a monthly report to EPD detailing their chosen strategies and the extent of implementation and enforcement during level 2.

Drought Response Level 3 does not allow for any outdoor irrigation, however many of the non-drought exemptions still apply.  For example, hand watering, watering of food gardens, and golf courses is allowed twice a week and professional landscapers can still install and work on irrigation systems.

When Drought Level 3 is declared, public water systems must adopt every strategy on the Menu, including drought surcharges.  A utility does not have to adopt drought surcharges if they have a tiered rate system, do not serve retail customers, or their billing system cannot implement them. It is up to the discretion of EPD whether they will implement numeric reduction requirements during Drought Level 3.

Confused yet?

The new Drought Rules will impact a wide variety of groups and individuals.  The WaterWise Council promotes sound water efficient policies and practices in Georgia by bringing together environmental NGOs, water industry professionals, and green industry professionals.  As such, the council represents a well-balanced view of water issues.  The Council asked the University of Georgia law students who are working on the guidance document to consider the Rule’s impact on water providers and a variety of different water users including landscape and irrigation professionals.

Stay tuned, in March there should be some good guidance on what these rules mean to you as a water user or water provider.  In the meantime, remember that we are in between drought so be smart.  You have control about how severely the next drought will impact you.  Be smart about what you plant, the plumbing fixtures you install, and your water use habits.  When a drought comes, and you know it will, you will be ready.