BUFORD -- A rainy winter hasn't done enough to fill Lake Lanier, the primary source of drinking water for Gwinnett.
Despite record rains, Lanier is four feet below the average for this time of the year and about seven feet below where it was this time last year, a press release said.
Officials from the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District say the lake could soon reach a level where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would be forced to restrict releases downstream, but dry conditions in south Georgia, southeast Alabama and the Florida panhandle may create a precarious situation where needs of both communities cannot be met.
"The recent rainfall has helped somewhat to overcome the deficit we experienced in the fall," said Mayor Boyd Austin of Dallas, who serves as the chairman of the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District. "But, aggressive water conservation must remain a priority for all of us."
Given the low level of Lake Lanier and widespread drought in South Georgia, officials are worrying about what would happen if March rains don't materialize.
So Austin and others are calling on nearby residents and businesses to pay attention to conservation measures implemented in recent years, when the lake reached historic lows.
"Analysis of water use in our region over the last 10 years shows that the water conservation measures in the district's plans are working, and I urge everyone to remember how important it is to conserve water every day," Austin said in a press release.
The following conservation measures are encouraged:
-- mulch around shrubs and garden plants to reduce evaporation and add organic matter to the soil to improve water-holding capacity.
-- consider drought tolerant plants.
-- follow state outdoor watering restrictions.
-- keep showers under five minutes.
-- run the dishwasher and clothes washer only when they are full
-- install low-flow showerheads and faucets
-- check to see if your house is eligible for a toilet rebate.
More information is available at http://www.gaepd.org/Documents/outdoorwater.html.