Drought worsens along coast

Georgia's drought is worsening, particularly in coastal counties south of Augusta, according to a new report issued Wednesday.

"Since the end of May, conditions in the southern two-thirds of (the) state have deteriorated from extreme to exceptional drought, the highest drought category," state climatologist David Stooksbury wrote in his monthly update.

Richmond and Columbia counties remain in extreme drought, the second-worst category, and the line of counties reclassified as exceptional is creeping closer.

"All counties in Georgia south of Harris, Talbot, Upson, Pike, Lamar, Monroe, Jasper, Putnam, Hancock, Warren, McDuffie and Lincoln counties, inclusive, are either in extreme or exceptional drought," Stooksbury wrote.

Groundwater levels in the coastal plain are at or near record low levels for all long-term monitoring wells, the report said. Some communities are drilling deeper wells to maintain water supplies.