Gov. Nathan Deal banned the use of fireworks in much of the state Monday as he expanded a drought declaration to 110 counties.
With no rain for weeks in some parts of the state and smoke-spewing wildfires creeping toward metro Atlanta, Deal’s executive order to declare a Level 1 drought across most of the state. You can find the list here.
The Level 1 declaration requires public water systems to inform customers about the dry conditions and encourage conservation, though it doesn’t restrict water use. Deal faces pressure to ratchet up the drought conditions to Level 2 in some counties, which would limit outdoor watering to two days a week on an odd-even schedule.
It’s dredging up memories of the epic drought of the late 2000s, when dry conditions spreading like an inkblot across the South led to dried-up lakes and riverbeds and water restrictions across much of the state.
After the second-hottest summer in Atlanta’s recorded history, conservationists and water planners fear another sustained drought will limit the state’s water supply. About half the state is in “severe” or “extreme” drought conditions, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center. And the northwest corner of the state is categorized as an “exceptional” drought.
Georgia legalized the use of most kinds of fireworks in 2015 and this year adopted new restrictions on when and where they could be used. The law bans residents from setting off fireworks after 9 p.m. most of the year, but gives Deal leeway to enact new limits in times of drought.