Concerns about effects of the recent drought are escalating as groups and authorities around the state issue warnings and information about water conservation and fire prevention.
The Birmingham metropolitan area has not seen any measurable rainfall in 24 days, and weather forecasts are not predicting any relief in the next seven to 10 days.
On Wednesday, Gov. Robert Bentley signed an emergency drought declaration, banning all outdoor burning in the 46 counties that make up north and central Alabama.
“The current drought condition in our state is posing a serious threat for wildfires,” Bentley said in a press release, "This declaration is meant to prevent unnecessary burning, reducing the chance of avoidable fires.”
The Alabama Forestry Commission reported that 341 wildfires have burned over 4,100 acres in the last seven days.
The Birmingham Water Works Board issued a Stage Two Drought Watch, which requests that residents use the "even/odd" system of watering their landscaping, with addresses ending in even numbers watering on Mondays and Thursdays, and those ending in odd numbers watering on Tuesdays and Fridays. No watering should take place on Wednesdays. Residents are also urged to refrain from watering between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Should water usage not decrease, the BWWB is expected to increase the drought level to a Stage Three Drought Warning, which would charge a surcharge on customers who use 110 percent or more of their typical water usage. Several local municipalities also have ordinances in place to enforce water conservation measures.
All residents are encouraged to limit and reduce their water usage as much as possible, and avoid practices that might lead to outdoor fires starting.