Digging Deeper: Dry creeks could cost area millions - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Digging Deeper: Dry creeks could cost area millions

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Dry creeks in here in south Georgia could cost the region millions.  The damage is already done, but might not be realized until crop yield come in later this year.

Both Spring Creek and portions of the Ichawaynochaway Creek were dry leaving farms no water for irrigation when temperatures reached 100. 

The conditions have also left well pumps dry al across the region.

Agriculture is the life blood of this area and without rain, farmers are forced to run these pivots to make a crop, but falling water levels left some without this valuable resource and it could cost them plenty.

There's water in the Ichawaynotchaway Creek at Milford, today. The gauge reads about 50 cubic feet per second, but you can still see the bottom. Two weeks ago that gauge was in the single digits, a disastrous situation.

"There's about 46,000 acres of irrigated crops from surface water which is basically the Ichaway Creek and its tributaries north of that gauge at Milford. When that gauge is reading single digits a lot of those acres don't have any water," Doug Wilson, Georgia Water Planning & Policy Center.

Just that small, but critical time period could cost farmers plenty.

"Because the aquifer is so close to the surface and because the streams the base stream flow is dependant on the water from the aquifer flowing into the streams. When you get into a period like we just went through from the first of April through June 18th with virtually no precipitation and high demand, you're going to get really low stream levels," said Wilson.

It's also meant problems for those with private wells at the edge of the Floridan aquifer. Communities that include Sasser, northern Lee County, and Doerun. This cut away shows how the aquifer slopes up and becomes shallow like the edges of a lake.

"Where it's thin and where it hasn't had a chance to recharge, when you get really dry conditions like we've had you can have dry well conditions," said Wilson.

Conditions where the pump is dry. The farther south you go, the deeper the Floridan aquifer gets. At its deepest it's 250 feet.

"A line from Albany to Colquitt something like that over there like that and then all the way south of the state the Florida is thicker, deeper, got more recharge area behind it," said Wilson.

The good news is the Floridan recharges quickly and rains last week have already showed some improvement. Water officials say hot, dry conditions are a continuing problem that need more discussion. While state money is being allocated for more reservoirs in North Georgia, none of that money will come south Georgia's way.

Governor Nathan Deal is here in Albany, Thursday, and water officials say they plan to attend the event and want to get a word with him about south Georgia's extreme drought conditions and possible solutions to dealing with the situation.

Water experts say while there have been plenty of complaints about farmers use of water resources, they're doing nothing illegal and its in their right to use that water for their crops which is south Georgia's largest industry.

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