Revising U.S. State Water Allocation Laws

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Draper, Stephen E.
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Since 1950, surface water withdrawals in the fifty United States have increased over 129%. (USGS, 1990) In 1985, the fifty states withdrew almost 265,000 Million gallons per day (MGD) from surface waters, consuming almost 23% of the withdrawals. (Ibid.) In some areas of the country, surface waters in specific basins have been completely allocated and water must be imported from other basins to meet the increasing demands. The increase in water demand in Georgia has been greater than most other states. In 1985, Georgia users withdrew over 4300 MGD from surface waters, an increase of 165% over 1950 withdrawals. (Ibid.; Hodler, 1986) In the Atlanta Metropolitan Area alone it is estimated that by the year 2010 surface water withdrawals will have increased another 58% over the present water demand. (Stevens, 1991) The growing demand for use of a finite amount of water means that Georgia and other states must allocate their water resources efficiently to insure that water is available for reasonable and beneficial uses when and where it is needed. A new initiative by the American Society of Civil Engineers will help states structure their water allocation laws to achieve the objective of efficient water use. It is called a Model State Water Allocation Code.
Sponsored and Organized by: U.S. Geological Survey, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, The University of Georgia, Georgia State University, Georgia Institute of Technology
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