Category: Water

Georgia Needs the Option of Interbasin Transfers

By Benita M. Dodd At least as misunderstood as the possibilities for water permit transfers in Georgia are the necessities of interbasin water transfers, in which water is moved from one river basin to another. Interbasin transfers, which currently involve six of Georgia’s 14 river basins, started out as a matter of Georgia topography. As counties were populated, especially in North Georgia, cities developed on higher ground near a surface water supply. Often, the high ground was a ridge separating two river basins. The city drew water from one basin and served residents living in both, and the water did not always make its way back to its source basin. Sometimes the intake system was in one basin and the… View Article

Permit Transfers Hold Water For Georgia

By Benita Dodd It may seem that Georgia’s water problems are Atlanta’s alone, but the state’s economic engine is hardly alone in its concerns about water quality or quantity.   Rincon, in Effingham County, is withdrawing more groundwater than allotted, but the state prohibits it getting more water from the Floridan Aquifer while a scientific study is under way. The Environmental Protection Division wants Rincon to tie into the county’s surface water pipeline. City officials cite concerns about water quality and expense and have even considered borrowing water withdrawal permits. Rincon is suing the EPD and being sued by stymied developers. Tybee, approaching its groundwater allocation, has another 100 condominiums permitted. The city is offering to buy back irrigation meters from… View Article
By James D. Giattina Land use and water quality are inextricably linked. Development almost always creates impervious surfaces – the roofs, streets, parking lots and sidewalks – that increase the volume of runoff and pollutants entering our watershed. These problems have contributed to a wave of new efforts to minimize the impacts of development, efforts variously known as low impact development; conservation design; mixed use development; neo-traditional neighborhood design; Main Street revitalization; transit-oriented development or smart growth. In communities around the country, and particularly in this region, there has been a growing concern that low-density development – also known as sprawl – has not only created longer commutes and car rides but left us with stormwater and other drainage problems… View Article
By Sara Pilzer Any official who visits a Georgia river, stream or creek after a heavy rain understands why Brant Keller is a wanted man. Keller is director of the Griffin Stormwater Utility. The city of 24,000 is Georgia’s first local government to implement a practical – and successful – solution to one of the state’s most serious challenges in meeting federal water quality standards: stormwater runoff. The problem, according to the state Environmental Protection Division, is that “Residential, commercial and industrial development has directly affected natural resource areas and wildlife habitats by replacing natural cover with impervious surfaces like asphalt and concrete.” “Rivers and streams are affected by erosion and sedimentation, stormwater runoff and municipal and industrial discharge.” The… View Article
By Ronald G. Cummings Over the last year or so there has been considerable controversy in Georgia concerning policies related to the planning and management of Georgia’s water resources. Two key issues in this controversy relate to protecting public interests in water, and reliance on markets as a means for resolving critical problems in reallocating water over time. These two issues are often combined within the context of the question: “Are Georgia’s waters a public resource or a commodity to be bought and sold?” This question is at best confusing and at worst misleading. The issue of whether or not Georgia’s water resources are a “public resource” is one that is independent of – not related to – the issue… View Article

Many Questions Remain for Atlanta After United Water

By Geoffrey F. Segal On Friday, January 24, the city of Atlanta terminated its rocky relationship with United Water, ending the venture into private water operation. Over the past several months the mayor and her staff have let it be known that they were unhappy with United’s performance operating the city’s waterworks—resulting in a three-month cure period that abruptly ended Friday afternoon. During this period, both sides painted themselves into a corner, leaving little or no room to maneuver. Perhaps the termination was nothing more than the culmination of months of political pressure and stances from which the city could not back away. Unfortunately, the people of Atlanta will still be paying for this costly decision for years to come.… View Article

The Atlanta Water Privatization: What Can We Learn?

By Geoffrey F. Segal I. Context In 1997, the City of Atlanta privatized their waterworks system, entering into a 20-year contract with United Water. At the time, it was the largest and longest privatization of infrastructure in U.S. history. The deal garnered many awards including one from the National Council on Public-Private Partnerships and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. However, in the past few months several issues have arisen in Atlanta regarding the performance of the water system, contractor payments or change orders, and the status of the system before the contract was entered into. Ultimately, while not perfect, the Atlanta water privatization presents a valuable opportunity from which to learn—if nothing else, it teaches us what not to do.… View Article
Jefferson G. Edgens Agriculture, forestry and construction activities have a bull’s-eye painted on them! The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), one could say, has farmers, landowners and carpenters in their regulatory crosshairs. What have these sectors of Georgia’s economy done to deserve EPA’s wrath? According to flimsy water quality reports, they are accused of polluting Georgia’s waterways. Environmental activists have used lawsuits to drive a dubious argument in the guise of cleaner water based on these reports. At the heart of the matter are “pollution caps.” Quite simply, these pollution caps set an upper limit on the amount of pollution allowed in a water body. At first blush, this sounds like a noble idea, but when the science is examined, much… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen As has been well reported in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta’s next mayor faces a ticking time bomb – the city’s water and sewer system. Due to years of neglect and poor design, raw sewage continues to flow into Atlanta’s rivers and streams, polluting the waterways for both Atlanta citizens and Georgians living downstream. Even more frightening is the recent finding that the city’s drinking water is at risk of contamination. In addition, the lack of sewer capacity threatens to freeze economic growth – growth that is crucial to Atlanta’s and Georgia’s future. Where is the public outrage? Where is the Sierra Club? If the Dow Chemical Company had flagrantly dumped more than two million of gallons of… View Article

“I am here today to thank the Georgia Public Policy Foundation for your role in building a fiscally conservative, pro-growth state. Not only did you help pave the way for a new generation of leadership, you continue to provide key policy advice and to hold us accountable to the principles we ran on. In short, you have had a transforming influence on this state. We are healthier, stronger, and better managed because of your efforts.

State Senator Eric Johnson, President pro tempore, Georgia State Senate more quotes