Although Georgia environmental officials will relax statewide water use restrictions Friday, there will be no real change in Richmond and Columbia counties.
The Environmental Protection Division announced Tuesday it will remove the 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. restrictions for 144 counties outside metro Atlanta.
But Max Hicks, Augusta's utilities director, said residents in Richmond and Columbia counties will stick to the same rules they have been observing since last summer.
When the EPD imposed the statewide restrictions last year, both counties struck a compromise with the state, resulting in different rules for local residents.
"What the state told us originally was anything in that same vein or flavor we could stick with since we had already gotten our customers accustomed to that," said Billy Clayton, Columbia County water works director.
The local restrictions included no watering on Mondays and an odd/even schedule that adheres to days of the week rather than days of the month.
"The fact that we don't allow anyone to water on Mondays, it made us at least equivalent to what (the EPD was) doing," Mr. Hicks said.
Mr. Hicks and Mr. Clayton said that water levels are good but that easing of local restrictions will happen without a recommendation by the EPD.
"It has been a wonderful year so far," Mr. Clayton said, referring to the rainfall. "It's been a real break from the last four years."
In Augusta, 47 million gallons of finished water and 124 million gallons of untreated water are available each day. The average daily water usage in June was 28.4 million gallons, Mr. Hicks said.
In Columbia County, the water-use capacity is 34 million gallons a day. The highest usage for the year in one day was 17 million gallons, Mr. Clayton said.
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EPD's revised restrictions: Beginning Friday, those at even addresses can water any time on even-numbered calendar days. Those at odd addresses can water any time on odd-numbered days.
Richmond and Columbia counties' restrictions: Those at even addresses may water any time on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Those at odd addresses can water any time on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. There is no watering on Mondays.