Water Conservation

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water-conservation-3By: Eddie Ayers, County Extension Agent

Even though we have finally gotten some rain, we should always be conscious about conserving water. In this time of extreme drought we need to be even more aware of how much water we use and waste.

Water supply planners estimate that a typical household needs 0.4 to 0.5 acre-feet of water per year (approximately 150,000 gal) to satisfy the typical demands of a home. However, we can get by on far less. Home water use varies considerably, depending on the number of people in a household, plumbing fixtures, appliances, lot size, and other factors.

The largest water users inside the home are toilets, clothes washers, faucets, and showers. Toilets made before 1993 use 3.5 to 8 gallons per flush (gpf). High efficiency toilets manufactured after 1993 use 1.6 gpf or less. The date of manufacture of most toilets is on the underside of the tank lid. A family of four can save 14,000 to 25,000 gal/yr by switching from conventional toilets to the newer, more efficient ones. Here are some suggestions to lower water use in toilets. Install vacuum assisted, low-volume toilets. Consider not flushing the toilet unless absolutely necessary. Regularly check for toilet leaks by placing food coloring in your toilet tank. Repairing leaking toilets can save more than 600 gallons of water per month. Do not use your toilet as a wastebasket. Make sure your toilet flapper does not remain open after flushing. Avoid using toilet bowl cleaners such as toilet tank tablets. These products affect the pH of water in your toilet tank and can cause leaks by damaging the rubber and plastic parts of your toilet.

Showerheads currently manufactured in the U.S. have a flow-rate of 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) or less. Here are some suggestions for increasing shower-use efficiency. Install a low-flow showerhead if you do not already have one. Keep your showers brief. Check the time you are in the shower so you know how long they last. A shower that lasts for five minutes using a low-flow showerhead uses 10 gallons of water while a 5 minute shower with a conventional shower head uses almost 13 gallons. Turn off the water while you lather up with soap and shampoo. Irrigate your indoor plants by placing a bucket in the shower to collect the water while waiting for it to warm up. Check the flow rate of your showerhead by using a 5-gallon bucket and a clock. Turn the shower on full and place a 5-gallon bucket under the shower for the amount of time you usually are the shower. Check and repair leaks in the tub diverter valve.

Install low-flow faucet aerators on all your household faucets. Some aerators can restrict flow to less than 1.0 gpm. Do not run the faucet continuously while washing dishes and hands, shaving, or brushing your teeth. Checking and repairing faucet leaks can save up to 140 gallons of water per week.

Conventional washing machines use between 35 to 50 gallons per load (gpl). The newer front-loading machines are more efficient and use between 18 to 20 gpl. Below are suggestions for reducing water use while clothes washing. Run the washing machine only when you have a full load of clothes. For lightly soiled laundry loads, use the shortest wash cycle. To avoid redundant washing, pre-treat stains on your clothes. Select the minimum water volume per load if your washer has a variable water volume setting. Regularly check washing machine hoses for leaks

Install a high efficiency dishwasher machine. Running the dishwasher only when it’s full can save 1,000 gallons of water per month. Running a full dishwasher usually uses less water than washing the same number of dishes by hand. Because the drying cycle of most dishwashing machines uses 1,500 watts per cycle, air or hand drying the dishes is more efficient and less expensive.

Just to give you an idea about how much water can be wasted take a look at these figures: 60 drops/minute = 192 gallons/month, 90 drops/minute = 210 gallons/month, and 120 drops/minute = 429 gallons/month. This article has been devoted to water conservation in the home. In the near future I will present an article about water conservation outside the home. Please note that some of the information in this article is from Colorado State Extension.

For more information, contact me at the Gilmer UGA Extension office.

An Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Institution

Eddie Ayers

Gilmer County Extension Agent               Fannin County Extension Coordinatorwater-conservation-2
1123 Progress Road, Suite A                      205 Church Street, Suite 1
Ellijay,  GA 30540                                             Blue Ridge, GA 30513
Phone 706 635-4426                                      Phone 706 632-3061
Fax 706 636-4426                                             Fax 706 632-4718

 

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With No Relief, State Sets Drought Restrictions

News

Numbering the 24th week of severe drought in Northwest Georgia, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division has issued a statement regarding water restrictions and other drought responses in our area.

droughtresponse_levels1_2_map_11172016Most of Georgia is now under some form of Drought Fighting Restriction with the exception of some of our very southernmost counties. You can enlarge the map to see exactly which countries are affected by the increased Level 1 and Level 2 Restrictions.

These State set restrictions detail when you can water your outdoor plants and landscape based upon your address. A two-day restriction dictates “even-numbered addresses and properties without numbered addresses may water on Wednesday and Saturday between 4:00 p.m. and 10:00 a.m.  Odd numbered addresses may water Thursday and Sunday between 4:00 p.m. and 10:00 a.m.”

This announcement comes on the heels of the announcements that the smoke cover in our area is expected to continue throughout the near future as authorities continue to battle the raging wildfires across the South East, with the Rough Ridge Fire being the major blaze in North Georgia.

Along with the drought restrictions, many counties are also declaring burn bans for residents to aid in fighting fires and drought.

Check out the full Press Release below to see more about the restrictions and what activities are fully prohibited under the EPD’s Authority.

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epdnewsrelease_p2

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Cohutta Wildfire Update: Increase in Fire Control Measures as Fire Expected to be Larger than 3,000 Acres

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On Wednesday morning, Nov. 2nd, Jeff Gardner, USFS District Ranger for Conasauga District provided FetchYourNews with the following information about the Rough Ridge wildfire in the Cohutta Wilderness Area.  Story begins below map.

Map showing location of Rough Ridge fire. Orange outlines the shape of the fire. Dark brown shows the fire containment lines USFS is using.

As of Tuesday evening, the Rough Ridge wildfire was at 2,771 acres. The main part of the fire is on the east side of Rough Ridge trail and is moving on a north, north-east track following the ridge line. The northern extent of the fire is near Crooked Dogwood Gap. Fire has backed down to the Jacks River all the way to Sugar Cove Branch.

Estimates from last week was that it would be about 3,000 acres in size.  Gardner now says that the fire will exceed 3,000 acres but did not provide information on how large the fire could become.

The wildfire jumped two control lines early this week.  On the west side, the fire crossed Rough Ridge trail and is now established on the western side of the mountain near Ash Hopper Branch, burning in a south to north direction.  Fire crews plan to stop the western side of the fire at Rough Creek.

On the east side, embers from the fire crossed Conasauga Creek and ignited roughly 40 acres.  Two other spots crossed the control line west of Jones Settlement and were contained at 2 and 15 acres.  USFS used bulldozers to make a clean fire line around these areas.  Crew members camped at the control lines east of Consauga Creek so they could walk the fire lines day and night.  Fannin County EMA sent trucks to the area yesterday in case the spread outside into Jones Settlement. USFS is also conducting water drops on the western edge of Jones Settlement.

Jones Settlement contains about 25 cabins.  According to Gardner, it is the only piece of property in Fannin County that backs up to the Cohuttas.  The rest of the wilderness is surrounded by National Forest.

USFS is now conducting water drops on the fire to keep its heat down.  USFS is using two helicopters to make the drops. One has a 150 gallon capacity and draws its water from a bucket filled at Lake Ocoee.  The other has a 2,880 gallon capacity and uses a snorkel which sucks water up from the lake.  Both helicopters are using Lake Ocoee as it is five minutes by air from the fire area.  Lake Blue Ridge is much further.

Within a Wilderness Area, fire crews must use fire control methods that have minimal impact. USFS’ overall plan is to control the fire with natural barriers like Jack’s River, Conasauga Creek and Rough Creek and man-made fire breaks such as Rough Ridge and East Cowpen trails. In total, USFS has established 15 miles of control lines, which included natural and man-made fire breaks. Fire crews daily hike the natural and man-made fire breaks to clean the breaks of leaves or dead fall which fire could use to travel over the breaks.  Crews are also igniting back fires from the fire breaks with the idea that the back fires will burn up all the fuel between it and the main fire, leaving the main fire with nothing to fuel it.   USFS is also conducting a daily fly-over of the fire.  The site of the fire is an extremely remote, rugged area with limited access.  Crews must hike in all their firefighting equipment like shovels and saws.

A lightning strike ignited Rough Ridge fire in mid-October.  Gardner said that lightning strikes only start 3% of the fires in the Cohutta Wilderness Area.  The other 97% of fires are human-caused.  In fact, Conasauga District rangers are now dealing with fires in the western part of their district and have brought in a fire management crew to oversee the Rough Ridge fire in the Cohuttas.

Gardner says that Fannin County can expect Rough Ridge fire to burn for a while.  The next predicted rain is in the middle of November.  Other weather services say that north Georgia’s drought could last through winter.

The fire burns more slowly in the morning hours due to higher humidity and lower temperatures.  In the afternoon, low humidity and higher temperatures cause the fire to pick up again.  Wind directions change day to day, so different communities may experience smoke impacts on different days.

A burn ban for Fannin County started on Oct.22nd. There should be no outdoor burning of any type including fire pits, campfires and burn barrels. On Oct. 23rd  a smoldering fire pit on an outdoor deck in Gwinnett County started a fire which engulf the house, killing all five people in the house. Fannin County EMA and Fire Department remind residents one floating ember can start a fire.

Current closures associated with the Rough Ridge wildfire include:

  • Forest Service Road 64 from Betty Gap trailhead to Three Forks trailhead
  • Three Forks trailhead parking lot
  • East Cowpen trail from Three Forks parking lot to the junction with Panther Creek trail, and
  • Entire length of Rough Ridge trail from the junction with East Cowpen trail to Jacks River trail.

 

 

 

 

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