Governor declares drought emergency

ELMORE COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - Governor Bentley signed an Emergency Drought Condition Declaration, which prohibits outdoor burning in all 67 Alabama Counties.   The governor cited the extremely dry conditions in the state as the reason for the proclamation.  Local agencies are also sounding the alarm.

Some water departments in our area have started imposing restrictions on customers' usage.  Volunteer fire departments are responding to an increasing number of brush fires.

"One cigarette butt on the side of the road, five minutes later, you've got a huge fire going out here," said Greg Welch, Assistant Chief of the Holtville Slapout Fire & Rescue Department.  "Like the governor said, don't burn anything outside, trash barrels, piles of brush, just let it sit for right now."

Welch said the fires are putting a strain on his volunteer staffing.  They flare up when many of the volunteer firefighters are at work.

"So that leaves us with a skeleton crew during the day," Welch said.  "And that's when your grass fires wood fires generally start when the general public's out and about."

The drought has forced the cities of Dothan and Troy to implement watering restrictions.  In Dothan, they're mandatory.  In Troy, they're voluntary for now.

"We are continuing to lose the reserve water we have in our tanks," said Mike Davis, Water and Sewer Superintendent for Troy Utilities.  "So we're praying for rain, and asking for residents to cut back on their yard watering."

Until the drought is over, prevention and conservation should keep the drought situation from being a greater problem.

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