Drought hit Georgia draws up water plan

The US state of Georgia has drawn up a plan to allow it to manage its water resources proactively rather than by reacting to crises - such as its current drought.

The Statewide Water Plan has been drawn up by Georgia’s Water council and while it still needs the approval of the state’s general assembly, it has been warmly welcomed by key decision makers.

Georgia’s water crisis made international headlines when state Governor Sonny Perdue sought divine intervention, leading a public prayer meeting calling on God to make it rain.

The water plan is the product of three years of research and consultation and seeks to balance the competing demands of different regions within a state whose population is growing at one of the fastest rates in the USA.

“Looking toward a future with increasing demands on water resources, it is clear that coordinated water planning will be an on-going need,” says the plan.

“Currently, we do not have good measurements of how much water is available from Georgia’s streams and aquifers, or how much waterborne pollutants our streams and rivers can safely assimilate.

“In addition, there are no reliable forecasts of how much water the state will need, or how much wastewater will be discharged, as the state continues to grow.

“The state must determine how much water can be removed from rivers, lakes, and aquifers without causing unacceptable negative impacts and determine how much

wastewater and stormwater streams can handle before water quality begins to degrade.

“This plan will help guide the stewardship of Georgia’s precious water resources to ensure that those resources continue to support growth and prosperity statewide while maintaining healthy natural systems.”

Gov Perdue said of the plan’s preparation: “This process has been one of the most inclusive and thoughtful that I’ve observed, with each stakeholder having a seat at the table.

“Water is a vital resource for all Georgians and this plan, which now goes to the General Assembly, gives Georgia a framework for sustaining and protecting water for generations to come.”

Lt Gov Casey Cagle added: “The plan addresses the short term as well as the long term water needs of our state and strikes a balance between conservation and moving forward in providing future storage capacity. It is important that we conserve while not tying the hands of business and economic development.”

The response from environmental NGOs has been lukewarm, with several branding the plan as putting too much emphasis on the needs of business and not enough on sustainability.

Sam Bond

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