The drought seems to be back, big time

By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - 2009 is off to an extremely dry start in south Georgia. Less than two months into the year, we already have a rainfall deficit of more than eight inches.

As you plant spring flowers, don't forget statewide watering restrictions are still in place.

Because it's winter, a lot of people simply forget we're in a drought, probably because there's not a lot of watering of outdoor plants right now.

Holding ponds should highlight the fact that it's still very dry in Southwest Georgia and because of this drought, water restrictions are still in place.

We're just weeks away from the beginning of spring, and springtime planting.

"Right now is a good time to plant, we're still in the cool months and if you go ahead and get your plants in now, they'll get established before the summer months, which is your hottest time of year will get here," said Greg Daniell of ABC Plant Nursery.

But when you put new plants in the ground, they'll need lots of water, so how do you do that in the midst of Level 2 Watering restrictions?

"If you water heavy on the times you are supposed to water, it will last til the next watering cycle," said Lorie Farkas of Albany Water, Gas and Light.

A couple of other tips: use mulch, or buy drought tolerant plants, like knock-out roses or crepe myrtles.

But it's not just landscaping that can get lead you to violate the water restrictions.

"If you want to use any outside water, that's to water plants, grass, shrubbery, wash a car, pressure wash a house, it all have to be done before 10 AM in the morning on your even/odd days," said Farkas.

And if you violate the hours, you could get in trouble, at least a warning. "Once a person gets warned the first time, we really have not had anybody repeat that offense. I think sometimes people forget, they think over the winter, restrictions have eased up and then spring new things start," said Farkas.

And while new things may start, the same restrictions are in place. Of course, if the drought worsens, those restrictions could become even more restrictive.

If you live at an Odd numbered address, You can water between midnight and 10 AM on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday.

Even numbered addresses may water on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday during those same hours.

No one is allowed to water on Friday.

And remember, these restrictions even cover charity car wash fundraisers, but businesses that depend on water are not included.