Organizational Arrangements for Developing Long-Range Water Resources Plans for Georgia
Hatcher, Kathryn J.
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The Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has developed a state water plan, introduced by Governor Harris, which calls for the state to construct 12 regional reservoirs in north Georgia and to fund design and construction for approximately 30 local reservoirs. The 1989 Georgia General Assembly passed legislation, based on the recommendations of the Governor's Growth Strategies Commission, which authorizes the DNR to carry out the reservoir construction program. The state water plan and the new legislation significantly change the water management situation in Georgia. We have now reached, or possibly even passed without realizing it, a crucial juncture in deciding how the planning and management of Georgia's water resources will be conducted. The organizational and procedural arrangements that are selected will determine the future of our water resources and our state. We need to think carefully about the decision process that will be used to develop and select the long range water management plans for Georgia. The decision process should be designed to be professional and fair, and to produce water management plans that are cost-effective and environmentally sound. In passing the GSC legislation, the General Assembly reserved the right to approve, in its 1990 session, some of the regulations being written to implement the new legislation, particularly the "minimum standards and procedures for planning" required for substate agencies under HB 215. This would be an opportune time for the public and the General Assembly to consider what sort of minimum standards and procedures should apply for state level water resources planning as well. This article discusses the organizational arrangements for water resources planning and construction at the federal level, using the Corps of Engineers' water study for the Athens area as an example. It points out some problems with the federal organizational arrangements and recommends ways to avoid duplicating these problems in designing the state level organizational arrangements for water resources planning and decision-making.