Gwinnett clears up water rules
County's restrictions now same as the state's

LAWRENCEVILLE - The rules to watering became clearer for Gwinnettians on Thursday, when county officials decided to echo state mandates instead of using their own rules.

The new restrictions are slightly looser than the most recent county rules, changed a month ago to allow hand-watering.

"I have every confidence that Gwinnett's businesses and residents will do the right thing by adhering to the state's outdoor watering restrictions," said County Administrator Jock Connell, who was given authority in March to make drought-related decisions by the Board of Commissioners. "I would encourage everyone to keep up their water conservation efforts."

According to Gwinnett Water Resources Acting Director Lynn Smarr, the biggest change to the restrictions involves newly installed landscapes. Since December, the county has only allowed 10 days of watering out of the first 30 days after new plantings, but the less restrictive state rule allows 30 days during the first 10 weeks.

All water users must abide by an even-odd schedule, based on address and only water for 25 minutes from midnight to 10 a.m., but whereas most vegetation can only be watered by hand, using a hose with a release-nozzle, large areas of new vegetation may be watered by sprinkler.

Smarr said the changes do not mean the county is less concerned about drought, as Lake Lanier, the county's major water supply, remains about 13 feet below its full level.

"This is to be consistent with the state. It's a little bit easier for our customers if we are all on the same playing field," she said. "We're heading into the summertime, and our customers need to be conservative. But this makes it a little easier."

Residents can go to www.gwinnettcounty.com for information about the watering restrictions, as well as a toilet-rebate program and a program allowing customers to truck reclaimed water from the F. Wayne Hill Water Resources Center in Buford for street sweeping, dust control, irrigation and other uses.

"It's important to know the rules because the Department of Water Resources will be enforcing them," Smarr said.