11/30/2010

Do You Have Any Water?

I hear this question often, sometimes as a joke, sometimes seriously. In Georgia, Metro Atlanta in particular, drought related water shortage from a few years ago received considerable press coverage. While Metro Atlanta was indeed hurting, large portions of the rest of the state were relatively unaffected. In fact Georgia’s 48 inches of annual rainfall is one of the highest in the U.S., higher than states we think of as getting a lot of rain, such as Oregon.

The causes for that particular water shortage stemmed from a number of factors, but the drought was a chief contributor. Georgia’s work on providing a sustainable water supply for our growing population has been going on for decades. The planning includes identifying future reservoir locations, interconnectivity of water systems, and conservation.  In addition, Georgia has been working with neighboring states Alabama and Florida on a water sharing agreement to satisfy all three states’ need for water from the Chattahoochee River.  A common misperception is that Lake Lanier, whose water levels were cited most often in the press coverage, is metro Atlanta’s only water source. This is untrue: the metro area uses a network of reservoirs. With the recent addition of several reservoirs around the metro area we have ample supply to handle current and future growth.

The passage for the landmark 2010 Water Stewardship Act builds upon these previous efforts and has been recognized by the American Rivers organization, which called Georgia “a national leader in water efficiency.”  The Act requires metering for multi-tenant housing, commercial and industrial construction, standardized leak reporting for public utilities, and high efficiency fixtures for all new construction. It also provides for the tracking of unused water withdrawal permits for agricultural use and creates a process for this unused water to revert back to the state. It also puts reasonable limits on outdoor water use.

We do have water and we are actively planning for our future water needs.

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