Dougherty County - Albany's most magnificent natural attraction is almost dry. There's hardly any water in the blue hole at Radium Springs.
Even though the attraction has been closed for years, no one wants to see it dry up. It's not only dangerous to wildlife, but it's an indication of a dangerously low water table.
Known as one of the Georgia's natural wonders, Radium Springs today is just a couple of feet deep, and almost totally green and murky. Georgia Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Regional Manager Rob Weller said "It's not flowing at all. Yeah, it's completely stagnant."
The rock walls around the Springs show you where the water level should be. Ladders off the center island hover a foot above the water line. Weller said "The water level should be up near the sidewalk level over there. And it should be crystal clear blue water. You should see a royal or bubble here on the surface right here from where the spring should be pumping out water."
Instead the algae is thick even on the surface above the blue hole, and the water warm.
The flow leading back to the Flint River is just a couple of feet wide, and inches deep at many points. Prints in the mud from raccoon and deer searching for water.
Weller said "This is a direct indication of how our groundwater table is doing right now. Which means it is low."
The Department of Natural Resources bought the springs in 1998. Fishery rangers are concerned about the drought's effect on wildlife, especially the stripped bass. Weller said "They have to have the cool water to survive. There are 10 or 15 springs up and down the Flint that these fish live in during the summer. Now if these springs were to stop flowing like this one, the larger fish would perish."
Weller says Radium Springs was this low in 2002, during the last troubling drought period. Looking at the spring dried up, the water stagnant once again, is worrisome. Weller said "you do have to be a little bit concerned over what a man's impact is on the water. And how much his activities and use of the water may increase the impacts of the drought."
State experts say drought like this point out the need to manage and conserve water as a limited natural resource. The rain deficit in Southwest Georgia is now around 12 and a half inches.