Georgia’s Regional Water Plans – Implementation Status
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In 2004, the Georgia General Assembly enacted the Comprehensive State-wide Water Management Planning Act, which led to the development of the State Water Plan in 2008. The Plan established a range of state-wide water efficiency, water supply, and water quality policies and actions. One of the most innovative and novel aspects of the Plan was the framework for development of regional water plans (RWPs), by local leaders, to address water quality and quantity issues, evaluate future forecasts for water supply and wastewater treatment needs, and identify potential measures to meet these needs in the future. All 10 RWPs were successfully completed and were adopted by the Director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) in November 2011. Each RWP lays out a roadmap for implementing integrated and specific management practices designed to ensure each Region’s goals and visions are met over the next 40 years. The practices target four water resource areas (water conservation, water supply, wastewater, and water quality) based on the results of a series of in-depth, technical resource assessments (surface water, groundwater and assimilative capacity). Since their adoption, these RWPs have guided EPD’s water permitting decisions. Implementation strategies vary by region with several focused on utilizing the Regional Commissions (RCs), previously Regional Development Centers or RDCs to provide coordination assistance and resources to help facilitate implementation of the RWPs. To assist with initial implementation activities, each region was provided the opportunity to develop a Section 319(h) grant funded project to focus on issues identified in the RWPs, such as fecal coliform tracking investigations, water quality credit trading feasibility studies, and management practice demonstrations. This paper provides a summary of the implementation status for each RWP, including their 319(h) projects. In addition, the potential options to enhance implementation over the next 3 years are discussed.