News Briefs: Level 1 drought declared; public trust recommendations; preserving Sweet Auburn

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) has declared a Level 1 drought response for 103 counties in Georgia, including Fulton County and the surrounding area. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, every part of Fulton County is currently experiencing either severe or extreme drought conditions. A Level 1 drought response requires municipalities to notify residents of drought conditions, but at this point the response does not include any additional watering restrictions beyond the permanent water use schedule set in place by the Water Stewardship Act of 2010. This schedule allows all outdoor water uses, but requires landscape watering to be done before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m., to prevent water loss due to evaporation. Residents are encouraged to be mindful of their water use at all times, and especially during drought conditions.

The Atlanta City Council approved legislation Monday formally acknowledging receipt of the final recommendations from the Task Force for the Promotion of Public Trust. The legislation also encourages a collaborative process between the mayor and council to ensure the recommendations are properly implemented in the best interest of the city. The task force’s recommendations include: creating an independent inspector general’s office with the jurisdiction and power to identify and investigate fraud, waste, corruption and misconduct; granting subpoena power to the city’s ethics officer and independent compliance officer; keeping investigations confidential; providing an enforcement mechanism to prohibit retaliation against whistleblowers; and encouraging city offices currently charged with investigations to improve coordination of their activities.

Public comments on preserving the city’s Sweet Auburn historic district are being accepted through Oct. 28 online at A new National Park Service report shows that Sweet Auburn has lost half of its historic structures since it was named a National Historic Landmark (NHL) in 1976. The study team identified encroaching development, vacant and neglected properties, incompatible construction, weak boundary areas, and the absence of archaeological ordinances as threats to the district’s preservation and standing as an NHL.

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