Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Work on Water Plan Trickles In

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Work on Water Plan Trickles In

Article excerpt

Byline: Dave Williams, Times-Union staff writer

ATLANTA -- Four years into a drought, and even as water planners rush forward with a host of reservoir projects to meet the rapidly growing needs of their customers, Georgia has moved little closer to a statewide water-management plan in the past year.

Last winter, with water on the General Assembly's short list of priorities, lawmakers created two entities to deal with the state's critical water-quality and water-supply problems.

But neither the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District nor the legislative study committee charged with laying the groundwork for a statewide plan have made much progress since the legislature's regular 2001 session ended.

And water isn't expected to be a major focus during the 2002 session that starts in January.

"We didn't realize how broad this issue is," said Rep. Bob Hanner, D-Parrott, the study committee's co-chairman.

Hanner's committee, delayed by back-to-back special sessions on redistricting in August and September that lasted weeks longer than expected, has held only three meetings.

The water-planning district, created to look for ways out of water-related problems plaguing metro Atlanta, has spent much of its time since the 2001 legislative session bogged down over simply how to pay for water-quality studies. Board members from the district's 16 metro-Atlanta counties ended up voting to split the $4.2 million cost evenly among themselves.

With both the statewide and regional water panels struggling to move beyond studying the issue, the only water-related legislation the Georgia Environmental Protection Division will be pushing this winter is aimed at stemming the dirtying of rivers and streams near construction sites.

The state Board of Natural Resources voted last month to ask the General Assembly to impose fees on builders to help pay for tighter monitoring at work sites and tougher enforcement of laws aimed at controlling erosion and sedimentation. …

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