Back in 2009, Georgia’s state climatologist said that Atlanta was out of drought, but two years later, the Atlanta drought persists.
Despite some above-average rainfall, the drought in Atlanta has gotten severe once again, and in fact most of the state is facing extreme drought. Here’s yesterday’s Atlanta drought data, visualized:
We’re facing some pretty extreme conditions, but there’s hardly any news on the drought here in Atlanta, and people seem to be watering as if everything is A-OK. Meanwhile, the drought is starting to effect the economy here in Georgia. Farmers, in particular, are seeing the effects. Peanut farmers in Georgia are expecting to reap 13% fewer crops this year, partly because of the drought conditions here.
What We Can Do
Atlanta isn’t the only area in the U.S. facing extreme drought conditions. Many states in the Southeast and Southwest are having the very same problem. But what can we, as individuals, do to reduce our water consumption during times of drought?
- Use greywater. Water from the shower that’s heating up or from your clothes washer doesn’t have to go down the drain.
- Water less. Do you really need to water your lawn every day? Could you cut back to a few times a week instead?
- Plant water-friendly plants. When you’re planning your garden, choose plants that don’t need as much water to thrive.
- Use less electricity. Power plants use billions of gallons of water each year.
- Choose water-friendly food. What you choose to eat and drink can have a big impact on your water footprint.
It’s also going to take action at the government level to truly solve Atlanta’s drought problems. One of our biggest issues is with runoff. Because so much of the city is paved, and we continue to grow unchecked, when we do have rain, it isn’t able to soak into the ground and become part of the natural water system. We need more regulations on new construction and to look at replacing some of our current paved infrastructure (like sidewalks and parking lots) with more permeable surfaces. This is also why when we do get heavy rain here in Atlanta, it tends to flood.
I’d love to hear from you guys, especially folks living in drought-stricken areas. How have you been reducing your water consumption?
- Buford Dam Outlet at Lake Lanier. Creative Commons photo by Flickr User the_gut
- Drought graphic. Via U.S. Drought Monitor.