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    Water remains a hot issue

    Dry conditions can also be dangerous ones. In November, Cobb Fire Marshal Chief Bill Goodson instituted an outdoor burning ban county- wide. Goodson, WATER PATROL: Cobb County Water System Public Services Supervisor Michael Rose. Workers often write citations for water violations they spot while handling other duties. interviewed in mid-December, said he would not be surprised if it continued through at least the end of January. “We’re trying not to have an on-again, off-again burning ban,” he said. Meanwhile, the Cobb County Water System continues to enforce the metro Atlanta outdoor watering ban in the midst of a more than four-year statewide drought. Water pressure is not yet a problem in Cobb County, but while Lake Allatoona and Lake Lanier are below their normal levels, officials want to keep it from becoming one. “We’re just trying to prevent a problem by excessive outdoor use,” Water Systems Business Division Manager Rick Brun said. “If we can do that, we’re fine. Most people are cooperating and understand.” Violators can create problems by using water that is needed elsewhere, such as fire hydrants, and people who burn outside create a hazard that can quickly spiral out of control. “It can get away from them in a hurry,” Deputy Fire Marshal Capt. Tom Simler said, noting the fires can become too large to put out with an extinguisher or garden hose. “The average person just doesn’t realize how quickly fire can spread.” For those few people who violate the bans, they can expect citations from county officials and the potential for fines up to $1,000 as well as the possibility of up to 60 days in jail. The watering ban forbids all outdoor water use between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. Those locations with even addresses can water the rest of the time on even-numbered dates. Locations with odd numbered addresses can use water on odd numbered dates. “The biggest problem we have is people with irrigation systems who don’t know how to use them or use them as an excuse,” Brun said. “After three years of water bans, people ought to know better.” Goodson said the burning ban, which forbids all outdoor fires, could be lifted with enough rainfall. The moisture ratings in December put the county at and just below levels that would cause concern. Goodson said a week of substantial rain might lead the county to lift the ban temporarily to see how much danger remains. Assistant State Climatologist Pam Knox with the University of Georgia Engineering Department said predictions for rainfall don’t give an indication whether rainfall will be above or below normal. But the rain will have to be substantial to impact the overall drought. “If we have normal rainfall, we’ll hold our own, but we won’t improve,” she said.

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