On June 11, Forsyth County, Georgia announced a total outdoor water use ban as a means of proactive management of the county’s water resources to help ensure an adequate water supply would be available for appropriate uses. The total outdoor water use ban was lifted as of June 17 and the county reverted to following the state-mandated ban which it had been under for the past two years.
The director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) declared a level one drought across the state on June 21, 2006. That same day, Forsyth County and the City of Cumming implemented outdoor water use restrictions beyond those of the state. Those restrictions are as follows and remain in effect. Violators are subject to citation and fines up to $1,000 and/or up to 60 days in jail.
- No outdoor watering is permitted on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays.
- Even-numbered addresses (address numbers ending with the number 0, 2, 4, 6, 8 or no house number): Outdoor water use is allowed on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
- Odd-numbered addresses (address numbers ending with the number 1, 3, 5, 7 or 9): Outdoor water use is allowed on Tuesdays and Sundays.
- On appropriate days, outdoor watering may only occur between the hours of midnight and 4:00 a.m. and between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and midnight.
- Use of hydrants for any purpose other than firefighting, public health, safety or flushing is prohibited.
To express its vital message to residents, the county made use of automated calling technology by Twenty First Century Communications. The Universal Communications System (UCS) is a high-volume automated outdial and inbound call handling system that can quickly reach large numbers of the population with targeted information.
In this case the system was used to alert citizens to the water shortage and the watering restrictions. Calls were made on two separate occasions as the county’s water supply dipped, recovered and dipped again.
The Universal Communications System dialed each of the residents and businesses of Forsyth County, automatically redialing 2-3 times the numbers that returned busy signals or “no-answer.” On June 11, Twenty First Century Communications reached 64,074 households to deliver the outdoor watering restriction information. On June 21- 22 TFCC successfully reached 95,199 households with the county’s second message, increasing restrictions beyond those of the state and warning citizens of the potential fines.
Calls were completed before 9:00pm on June 11 and were executed until 9:00pm on June 21, at which time the program was stopped and subsequently finished the next day.
With UCS, agencies can send clear, precise messages to large segments of the community in a very short time frame. Event-specific messages are created by the agency and can be pre-recorded and saved for later use in an anticipated scenario, such as drought, fire or summer storms.
UCS even offers independent inbound hotlines so citizens with questions or concerns can call the agency for further information.
“Automated calling tools like UCS enable agencies of all types and sizes to reach customers, key staff or the general public, quickly and economically,” said Elizabeth Drake, Twenty First Century’s Client Manager representing the Forsyth County account.
Among other uses, UCS is employed by electric utilities to reduce power demands during peak load conditions, by county officials for “boil water” and flood alerts, and by corporations and government agencies for continuity of operations and employee accountability/notification.
Twenty First Century Communications is the leader in “hosted” crisis communication services. Located in Columbus, Ohio, TFCC has more than 17 years experience in providing high volume call response and emergency notification services. Twenty First Century provides a variety of customized, remotely run notification and call-handling services to utilities, government agencies, public safety entities, businesses and other organizations using the industry’s largest, most reliable telecommunications network. TFCC serves more than 80 clients with a client database representing more than 67% of the United States TFCC processes more crisis calls than all other hosted crisis service companies combined. In September 2004, Twenty First Century managed 11 million calls, and in 2005, handled more than 20 million. During Hurricane Isabel, TFCC managed 1.2 million calls in a single day.
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