Georgia Drought: Businesses Look to Conserve

Georgia's drought worries have reached a fever pitch as Lake Lanier, Atlanta's premiere water source, sits 16 feet below where it should be this time of year. By year's end it's expected to be 36 feet below normal, making it unusable.

While residents cope with strict water usage restrictions, businesses and animals are affected too, like the Georgia Aquarium.

"Everyone is concerned about the aquarium here because we have so much water, but we recycle all the water we have," said Bruce Carlson, vice president of conservation, research and exhibits at the aquarium. "Every drop of water in these exhibits is so precious so we have huge filtration plants, in fact, bigger than some city filtration systems."

The aquarium has deployed drastic measures to protect its wet resources.

With the installation of waterless urinals, the aquarium believes it will save more than 1 million gallons annually.

Overall, the aquarium will save 3 million gallons a year.

It's a drastic change for a place where water conservation was once its primary goal. Now merely getting water has eclipsed that target.

It's forced changes in places like the atrium, where water pools that surround exhibits have been drained. Some have been filled with sand.

The aquarium's waterfall has been turned off and in locker rooms a five-minute timer regulates showers.

The aquarium is even collecting water from its rooftop air conditioning units. The building is so large that recapturing this condensation is expected to save a million and a half gallons a year.

The officials said none of the new water-saving measures will do anything to upset the ecosystem.

Waterless Solutions

The aquarium isn't the only place trying to save water. Across the city residents and businesses are trying to find creative ways to conserve.

Some already have begun hoarding water in anticipation that the drought may worsen.

Suddenly waterless facilities have become popular. Companies selling them have run out of stock.

The city's airport and school systems continue to wait for them. Until then the airport has adjusted its old bathrooms to use less water.

"We adjust the sensors so they're not as sensitive," said Herschel J. Grangent, of the Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. "They may flush more times than they need to and of course that's a waste of water."

In suburban Cobb County, officials are giving $100 credits to water customers who install low-flow toilets in their homes.