Raging forest fires, water scarcity and environmental decay are just a few major dilemmas resulting from this year’s statewide drought.
Since deforestation blazes have smoldered, concerns are growing among environmental experts who are trying to increase the awareness of Georgians as the drought level has boosted from a level I to a level II.
“This is the first time in six years the drought level has been raised,” climatologist David Stooksbury said. “We are seeing mild, severe and extreme droughts all over the state, and this is a bad mixture of scarcity, which is sparsely seen.”
Generally, the state sees a mild drought every 10 years, a severe drought every 20 years, and an extreme drought every 50 years. Historically, the Georgia summers are dry, and the drought level could easily be raised if conditions do not change soon, he said.
Liberty County is now in a severe drought, and water use has been restricted for its citizens due to the raising of the drought level, Hinesville Manager Billy Edwards said.
Deatre Denion, a WaterFirst coordinator, warned that the community cannot be apathetic in dealing with water conservation.
“If the drought level is raised again, the businesses who depend on large amounts of water in the county will be hit with restrictions. The enforcement of these restrictions must be upheld, or consequences may worsen for the local citizens.”
If this drought persists, and it presumably will, the marsh faces problems of its own, which could affect both the wildlife and the people of Liberty County, environmentalist Chandra Brown said,
When it rains, the amount of fresh water in rivers and streams increases, and the surplus of this water aids the ecosystem of the marsh. Since the water level has dopped, more saltwater is seeping into the marsh, and this unbalance of water will have a direct impact on the coastal fishing industry, she said.
“The increase in saltwater will disrupt commercial fishing by killing off crabs and shellfish, and major droughts like these are theorized in contributing to marsh dieback,” she said.
The basis for life in the marsh exists partly in the grasses where a good deal of mating occurs, and if the drought persists, the ecosystem along the coast could be altered to some degree, she said.
Water-use schedule changed
The Georgia Environmental Protection Division has declared a level two drought response across the state and will require all Georgians to follow a more stringent outdoor water-use schedule.
A level two drought declaration limits outdoor water use to mornings only. The new outdoor watering schedules statewide are as follows:
• Odd numbered addresses may water on Tuesdays, Thursday and Sundays from midnight to 10 a.m.
• Even numbered and unnumbered addresses may water on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays from midnight to 10 a.m.