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State operates under level-2 watering schedule

By Sharon Omahen
University of Georgia

Designed to help Georgians save water during a drought, the state's outdoor water-use regulations include some helpful exemptions.

Under the level-2 schedule, for instance, you can water your home food garden any day. And you can water newly installed turfgrass or landscape plants every day for 30 days.

University of Georgia water specialist Rose Mary Seymour says there are ways to complete your outdoor tasks without breaking the law.

Certain days, times

Georgia is now using its level-2 outdoor water-use schedule. Outdoor water uses are allowed only from midnight to 10 a.m. on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at odd-number street addresses and on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at even-number addresses. Outdoor watering is banned all day on Fridays.

"If you install new plants or new sod, you're allowed to water it for 30 days," she said. "You can water any day, as long as you do so during the designated hours."

Irrigating "home personal food gardens" is exempt from outdoor watering regulations, too. "Personal food gardens would cover both vegetable and herb gardens," Seymour said.

Use creative sources

Using captured or reclaimed stormwater or water from your cooling system is also exempt from the rules. Reuse of gray water is exempt, too, as long as local ordinances allow its use.

"Gray water is water from washing machines, sinks, showers or anything household, except the toilet," Seymour said. "You just have to check to be sure your local water purveyor allows gray water usage."

Many businesses exempt

Commercial businesses have several exemptions.

"Certain businesses are exempt from many of the rules because they rely on water for their livelihood," Seymour said.

Commercial businesses exempt from the watering regulations include professionally licensed landscapers, irrigation contractors, sod producers, ornamental growers, retail garden centers, fruit and vegetable growers, hydro-seeders, construction sites, food and fiber producers, car washes, power washers and other activities essential to daily business.

"At this level, homeowners are still allowed to wash their cars and fill their swimming pools," Seymour said. "But you can't use water to wash off your driveway or deck."

(Sharon Omahen is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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