ATLANTA - Governor Sonny Perdue has recognized the city of Clarkesville and the Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority for their water reduction efforts. During his environmental address at the Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful luncheon, Perdue recognized several municipalities, communities and industries who have shown a significant reduction in water use.
"I am proud to see so many Georgia communities and businesses cutting back on water usage during this unprecedented drought. Whether a large company, a small business or a family, Georgians stepped up in droves during this difficult time," Perdue said.
"Georgians are making conservation a part of their daily routine, being more conscientious than ever before about what they consume. We are growing, and while that growth brings challenges we find ourselves moving in the right direction, focused collectively on making a difference for our state."
In October 2007, Perdue directed the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) to achieve a 10 percent reduction in withdrawals for permit holders in the 61 North Georgia counties. Permit holders were asked to reduce water withdrawals by 10 percent compared to the permit holder's water usage of December 2006 through the end of March 2007.
The city of Clarkesville pumps water from the Soque River, a tributary to the Chattahoochee River in its upper reaches. In addition to improving its connections with neighboring water systems to improve system reliability, initiating efforts to improve its ability to withdraw water from the Soque, and improved leak detection, repair and metering efforts, the city has demonstrated remarkable success in getting its customers to reduce their water use. On average, Clarkesville managed to reduce its water use by 23 percent between November 2007 and July 2008 when compared to the same period a year ago.
Clarkesville City Manager Steve Hashimoto said Clarkesville water customers deserve the bulk of the credit. "We have citizens that are very much aware of the water situation," said Hashimoto. "They are environmentally conscious and they understand it is a finite resource."
Winter water use in Clarkesville during November 2007 through March 2008 dropped by an amazing 21 percent compared to the same period a year earlier, meaning Clarkesville used, on average, 100,000 gallons per day less this past winter than they did the previous winter. This is 10 percent more than the average of the winter reductions achieved for the entire 55-county area.
Despite its small size and the influx of summer tourists, Clarkesville has managed to not only keep pace with summer reductions achieved by other communities in the Level IV drought response area, they have exceeded the average reductions across the 55-county area.
Perdue also recognized the efforts of Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority partners, which includes: Athens-Clarke, Oconee, Barrow and Jackson counties.
He noted that the agency implemented "extraordinary" measures within the service areas of each county last year to reduce demands on the troubled reservoir to give it time to be refilled.
Because of these efforts the Bear Creek Reservoir is full once again, providing a supply of water adequate to meet the reduced demands of its customers. From November 2007 through July 2008, these systems reduced their water use by an average of 25 percent when compared to the same period a year earlier. While they were only required to reduce their usage by 10 percent during the months of November of 2007 through March of 2008, they actually achieved reductions of 22 percent when compared to the same period a year earlier. Summer reductions were equally impressive with water use between April and July of this year being reduced by 33 percent of what was used for the same months a year earlier.
Twenty-two Industrial Permitted Water Users in the 55-county drought area reduced their water usage by 33 percent or more from November 2007 through July 2008 compared to the same period a year earlier.