Meeting water supply needs while protecting the economic and ecological integrity of Georgia’s water resources

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Schmitt, Mandy
Miller Keyes, Alice
Walters, Jessica
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Water supply and its distribution are of increasing concern in Georgia. Aggressive water conservation programs offer an alternative source of water and a means to protect environmental needs. Georgia must take action to improve water use efficiency in all sectors of society. This requires efficient and effective policy development and administration. Comprehensive statewide water conservation planning and implementation has the potential to improve water quality and instream flow levels, decrease the need for new capital investments, reduce vulnerability to drought, and provide other benefits to the people and ecosystems of Georgia. Several states have effectively implemented statewide water conservation planning. Thus, we have analyzed the elements of several state programs to determine what characteristics are instrumental in getting results from conservation. As Georgia rises to meet the challenges of water supply planning, we must create a comprehensive water supply and conservation plan that provides for (1) acceptance of the need for aggressive water conservation by political leaders, (2) a detailed water conservation policy, (3) comprehensive monitoring of water use and instream water levels, (4) stable funding sources for water conservation initiatives, (5) technical assistance, (6) strong educational and media outreach, (7) sufficient staff to implement the statewide plan, and (8) stakeholder involvement in the planning and implementation process. Georgia has the opportunity to become the leader of comprehensive water supply planning in the Southeast by making water conservation an alternative water supply source. To be successful, however, we must embrace all eight conditions discussed herein.
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