After breathing a sigh of relief for the past few years, many Georgians are once again facing extreme drought conditions, which threaten to intensify during the summer.

While scattered showers seem to dot northeast Georgia daily, the southern two-thirds of the state has faced deepening drought since May. Parts of middle Georgia are in exceptional drought, the highest drought level.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has named 22 Georgia counties drought disasters and 26 contiguous counties eligible for aid.

Drought is nothing new to the South, especially not to Georgia. Just as economic forecasters say we are facing a “new normal” in the U.S. economy and must adjust our spending habits to those conditions, Georgians are adjusting their water-use habits to meet our new normal in the water supply.

I have heard experts say it’s not the abundance of water in Georgia that has changed, rather it’s the number of people using the resource and the amounts they are using that are stressing the supply.

Use water wisely

During the last prolonged drought four years ago, pleas to conserve water were followed by stringent water-use restrictions, heralding a dramatic decrease in water use across the state. People became more conscientious about how they used water. In Atlanta, water consumption dropped by 14 percent compared to a decade earlier.

Georgia is becoming a more water-efficient state because most are doing their part to protect and conserve this precious resource, including Georgia farmers. However, farmers need sound, scientific-based information to make the best, most-economical decisions to help them stay in business, while providing the food and fiber we need at home and around the world.