On September 28th, 2007 Georgia EPD issued a Level 4 Drought Response for most of North Georgia. This decree is in response to the worst drought Georgia has seen in over 100 years. As the likelihood of enough rainfall to alleviate the shortage appears unlikely, Federal, State, and Local officials are contemplating actions to secure adequate water for the region.
As industry holds these same concerns, the Council for Quality Growth has been actively involved in the development of the Georgia Statewide Comprehensive Water Plan. While the Water Plan can’t solve our immediate predicament, it is an important step in the long-term viability of the region to support unprecidented growth.
In the meantime, Governor Sonny Perdue has written to the Army Corps of Engineers requesting that they re-evaluate the amount of water being released from Lake Lanier and Lake Alatoona in order to protect economic and public health interests within the drought-afflicted area. The response from the Corps has been consistent with the position that minimum flow levels must be maintained for downstream users, including power plants and federally listed endangered species.
Georgia’s Congressional Delegation has proposed legislation that would allow a state to be temporarily exempted from the Endangered Species Act if a drought was declared to be threatening the health, safety, and welfare of residents in a region basin managed by the federal government. Additional information on this legislation can be found on the Federal Issues Page here.
Governor Perdue has mandated that counties within the Level 4 Drought Response area must decrease water usage by 10 percent from 2006 numbers. This affects commercial, industrial, and municipal water users within all those counties. Individual counties are now in the process of developing Drought Management Plans in order to meet this mandate.