Ga. Officials Relax Water Restrictions

ATLANTA (AP) _ Georgia environmental officials are relaxing some of the water restrictions imposed at the height of the record drought gripping the state.

The state's top environmental official called off an order yesterday requiring utilities in 61 north Georgia counties to reduce water use by 10 percent. Carol Couch also downgraded water restrictions in counties in south and central Georgia, where increased rainfall has improved dry conditions.

She's allowing some counties where virtually all outdoor watering is banned to apply for exemptions.

Recent rainfall throughout the state has helped replenish many of Georgia's drying reservoirs and streams. No part of the state is now classified as "exceptional drought,'' the government's worst category.

Yet north Georgia is still locked in an extreme or severe drought, and forecasters warn the conditions could worsen through the summer.