Dangerously low water levels force Ga. county into emergency mode

Haralson County drought emergency

A Georgia county has been forced to make emergency cuts to water use for all residents after the main water source dropped to dangerously low levels on Saturday.

Haralson County Emergency Management Director Brian Walker told 11Alive that the water levels had dropped so far that the county's main intake for fresh water is no longer in the water at all.

It's the latest, and among the most extreme, examples of Georgia's ongoing drought issues.

Walker said that the county's main water source, the Tallapoosa River, was the point of concern that first forced the county commission chairman to call for the localized state of emergency, Saturday.

That call includes a ban on all outdoor water use that, officials hope, will keep limited reserves available for emergency responders, such as firefighters, if they are needed.

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The county had already been struggling with the issue forcing the Haralson County Water Authority to limit outdoor water use even before the latest revelation. But as rain continues to miss the area, even those measures haven't been enough.

Even county and city car washes have been shut down as county agencies try to deal with the issue.

Walker said that he had been in contact with other emergency authorities throughout the afternoon to plan for what comes next.

At this point, the plan is to clear beaver dams along the river on Sunday in hopes of helping increase water levels downstream.

If that doesn't work, however, Walker said the county would have to come up with a new plan. As for an old plan, there isn't one because few if any in the county have dealt with a similar problem, he said - at least not in a very long time.

It's the latest development in a drought impacting more than 50 Georgia counties spreading across all of north Georgia and cutting a diagonal path from the Augusta, Ga. area all the way down to the state's southwest corner.

Haralson County is on the edge of the hardest hit area of the state - the northwestern corner - which is experiencing D4 "Exceptional Drought" conditions - the highest level on the U.S. Drought Monitor's reference chart.

And while the majority of the county is actually listed one step down in a D3-D4 "Extreme Drought" level, that doesn't lessen the concerns county officials are now trying to address.

For locals, those charts and projections are no where near as clear a sign of the problems they face as are the waters that could very soon stop reaching them.

(© 2016 WXIA)


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