Long term drought is over in Georgia - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Long term drought is over in Georgia

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January 2, 2003

Albany -- Georgia's five-year long drought is over. Climatologists and hydrologists say the increased rainfall since September has brought their drought indicators back to the normal level.

But these experts say that water conservation should continue in Georgia. Most of Georgia was nearly 10 inches below normal in yearly rainfall in early September. But those deficits were almost eliminated by the years end, because of steady showers.

Now the five indicators used to measure drought are near normal. Only groundwater levels have been slow to recover.

Hydrologist Woody Hicks said "Typically this time of year we're just beginning to see our recharge for the year. In terms of that we're in good shape. We're starting to see water levels come back." Test wells in Southwest Georgia show the groundwater levels will improve, if forecast rains continue this winter. Hicks said "I think we're pretty much out of the woods, and on the way to healing."

But water experts agree that Georgia must continue to work on conservation methods even as the supply increases. Georgia's population has more than doubled in the last 40 years, and continues to grow. Hicks said "There's competition for water in Southwest Georgia, even now. There's competition for water in metropolitan Atlanta. Conservation is important, and learning how to deal with these times, when we are in drought, is a most important part."

Hicks says Georgia farmers should have much improved water levels for 2003's planting season. In fact forecasters say they could have problems because of rains keeping their fields too wet.

State Climatologists say the drought started in Georgia in May 1998. Now they report soil moisture levels are nearly 90 percent statewide.

posted at 3:24 by jimw@walb.com