A month after the climatologists said that the North Georgia drought was over, the state Environmental Protection Division has caught up. As of today, most watering restrictions have been lifted throughout the region. You are still limited to watering on your assigned odd-even days, either Monday, Wednesday and Saturday or Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, but you can water any time you like.
The EPD does recommend that you not water between 10 AM and 4 PM, since during those hours more water can be lost to evaporation, making watering less useful. This is a return to level one watering restrictions. Level two restrictions, which we were under for much of 2007, limited watering to between midnight and 10 AM. We never were subjected to level 3 restrictions, which would have limited watering to a single day a week.
Before you turn on those sprinklers full blast, though, be aware that water rates have changed since the last time we were drought free. The big change is a summer surcharge for excessive water use. For example, in Gwinnett County, you could pay twice the normal rate per 1,000 gallons for amounts above 20% of your average use from January through March.