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New rules for watering your lawn
County expected to adapt ordinance as new state law goes into effect
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Effingham County commissioners are expected to take up an outdoor water use ordinance at their next meeting, after county engineer Steve Liotta discussed the provisions of the Georgia Water Stewardship Act.
The act, Senate Bill 370, was signed into law June 1 and changes outdoor watering use regulations. The statewide ordinance adopted in 2004, limiting outdoor watering on odd-even days and by odd-even street numbers, has been changed to a prohibition of outdoor watering from 10 a.m-4 p.m., regardless of the day of the week and residential address, Liotta explained.
“It’s sort of a relaxed outdoor watering schedule,” he said. “Instead of watering three days a week, you should be allowed water seven days a week — just not between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.”
SB 370 applies to landscape watering uses only, Liotta noted. It does not apply to such things as power washing of houses or activities such as washing the car.
“Those will remain under the old odd-even schedule,” he said. 
The state changes also will be incorporated into the county ordinance and it applies to any water withdrawn from a surface body of water or from an aquifer, according to Liotta. It does not, however, limit the use of watering from private wells or the application of reuse water.
“You could irrigate to your heart’s content if you’re on a reuse system,” he said.
Also excluded from the 10 a.m.-4 p.m. prohibition are commercial agriculture operations, irrigation of personal food gardens, irrigation of new and replanted turf in landscapes, golf courses and athletic fields for up to 30 days after the installation of the new grass and irrigation of golf courses, athletic fields or public uses of a grassed area. Water taken from a private well or surface water can be used by the owner of that land if the well or surface water is on that same land.
Liotta said enforcing the rule, though, is not easy.
“It is very hard to regulate,” he said.
Commissioners also approved sending the capital improvements element and short term work program to the Coastal Regional Commission. That action is necessary because the county collects impact fees, said zoning director George Shaw.
The first part of the report is an accounting of what the county collected and spent from impact fees. The second part is what it intends to spend impact fees proceeds on and other possible funding sources. The document is sent to the Coastal Regional Commission, the successor to the Coastal Georgia Regional Development Commission, and then forwarded to the state Department of Community Affairs.
County Administrator David Crawley said the CIE update and short term work program needs to be in the DCA’s hands so it’s approval can be completed by the end of October. He also said there will be changes to the capital improvements element as the county may make changes to its impact fee ordinance.
“You will probably see changes later this fall as we move forward with revising the impact fee ordinance,” he said.