Drought conditions worsen - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Drought conditions worsen

April 24, 2007

Albany--  Our lack of rain isn't just leading to those wildfires.  It has also reduced flow in Georgia's waterways. Water experts and climatologists are worried. They hope things don't dry up even more.

Temperatures are on the rise across the state while water flow is reduced.

"The stream flows are very, very low in the gauging stations around the state," said Doug Wilson with the Georgia Water Planning and Policy Center.

The state of the water situation is getting worse.  Georgia's climatologist announced it's gone from severe to extreme in nearly two dozen southern Georgia counties.

"The minimum recorded was 14 in 1955 so we're setting a record today," said Wilson.

Doug Wilson with the Georgia Water Planning and Policy Center in Albany uses a computer to monitor water levels. He notices the Flint River is now only at 25 percent of normal flow.

"The Flint at Newton is 2730 cubic feet per second. It's been as low as 800 cubic feet per second at Newton during the drought between 1999 and 2002," said Wilson.

Wilson fears things can get back to that point. "Who knows? If the rainfall doesn't come, the streams are going to go dry," said Wilson. Especially since we're experiencing drought conditions as early as Spring.  Soon, farmers will begin irrigating their cotton and peanut crops which could cause even more problems.

"The lower Flint Basin has about 900,000 irrigated acres. That's a lot of demand on the resource," said Wilson.

It's a resource that's been used overtime lately to fight raging wildfires in Southeast Georgia. "Those streams, a lot of them, are essentially dry. Just a fraction, one percentile of what normal flow is this time of year," said Wilson.

This time of year is still early and many will be monitoring water to see just how low it goes. "We'll be watching," said Wilson.

Wilson says the aquifers are in good shape and although the Flint is low, there's still a good flow. If the drought gets worse though, endangered aquatic life in the streams could be in jeopardy.  

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