Atlanta - The state Board of Natural Resources approves water use rules the next time Georgians are suffering through a drought.
The severity of the drought determines the level of water restrictions. At the lowest level, conservation is voluntary. At the next level, local water systems decide how to cut back customers' water use.
In a more serious drought, automated outdoor watering would end and hand watering would be limited to certain times of day. At its most extreme, customers would be charged extra for inside water use, too.
Industrial users and newly planted landscaping are exempt.
It will be up to the director of the state Environmental Protection Division to monitor climate conditions and decide which areas of the state are in drought and what level of restrictions might be necessary.
These rules are years in the making, but the Georgia Water Coalition believes they've been watered down.
"A drought declaration is ultimately in the hands of an agency director whose decision making may be clouded by politics," Chris Manganiello, policy director for the Georgia River Network, tells Morris News Service.
Jac Capp, chief of the Watershed Protection branch of the state EPD, says the agency is pleased with the outcome. "We think this is a good rule that will produce good results for our state," he said.