But, because the city of Griffin has plenty of water, thanks to the Still Branch and Head’s Creek reservoirs, City Manager Kenny Smith and Director of Public Works Brant Keller have petitioned the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to change Griffin’s drought level from Level Four to Level Two.
“Dr. Keller and I and (state Rep.) David Knight met with representatives of the Georgia EPD,” Smith said. “We just wanted to be exempt from the additional ten percent restriction on our permit.”
Smith said Gov. Sonny Perdue has imposed an additional 10 percent restriction on water usage.
“We’re trying to be exempt from that because of the building of our Still Branch Reservoir and several measures over the last few years to conserve and because of certain financial obligations due to the bonds for the reservoir,” Smith said.
“We owe $64,380,000 on the reservoir bonds,” he said. “My annual payback at the current rate is $3.7 million. If I reduce 10 percent to my system as the (decree) calls for, it would give me a shortfall of just below $1 million.”
Keller cited a similar situation in the city of Rome, where a recent meeting revealed that a mandatory 10 percent reduction would cost the city $3 million.
“Water systems across the board have debt they need to pay back,” Keller said.
Keller also explained what a change from drought Level Four to drought Level Two would mean.
Under Level Two, there would be an “odd-even system” of water use. Some people would be permitted to water from midnight to noon or from 4 p.m. to midnight on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, while others would be permitted to water during the same hours on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. Nobody would be permitted to water on Friday.
Griffin Board of Commissioners member Dick Morrow wrote to state Sen. Ronnie Chance, R-Tyrone, about Griffin’s problem with the water restrictions.
“They (the restrictions) should not apply to Spalding County and the city of Griffin,” he said.
Morrow said Griffin is not part of metro Atlanta’s water difficulties and that it has invested in a new reservoir and serves as a water supplier to the region.
“We need to sell water to pay our bonds and we’re being penalized by being put under Atlanta’s restrictions,” he said.
Morrow said Griffin supplies water to the cities in Pike County, which are not under the drought restrictions, and that the 10 percent restrictions jeopardize Griffin’s ability to fulfill its obligations.
“We can’t reduce our water and honor our contract with Coweta County,” he said.
Jim Berry, owner of Berry’s Sporting Goods, thinks the restrictions should remain in place.
“I think surface water affects everybody, so if Griffin is able to use more water, it affects the amount of surface water downstream,” he said. “I don’t see a need to ease restrictions.”