Agriculture Water Permitting: Turning Regional Plans into Permitting Decisions
Hook, James E.
Harrison, Kerry A.
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During 2006, the Flint River Basin Water Conservation and Development Plan (FRBP) and the Coastal Georgia Water and Wastewater Permitting Plan for Managing Saltwater Intrusion (CZP) were adopted by Georgia Environmental Protection Division. Both had big impacts on permitting of agricultural water withdrawals. Moratoria had been in place postponing new permits. With acceptance of the plans, a flood of backlogged applications, some as old as six years, had to be processed. Permit rule changes in the plans or brought about by concomitant new legislation had to be implemented. The newly formed Agriculture Permitting Unit was relocated to Tifton, and UGA personnel assisted in transforming EPD permitting processes to speed up processing to handle the backlog and implement new regional plans. Existing permits and new applications were incorporated into a geodatabase since most permitting decisions are location specific. GIS tools and models were developed to systematically and objectively evaluate applications, and procedures were established to improve the communication between EPD and agricultural applicants.