Water conservation plan concerns farmers - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Water conservation plan concerns farmers

April 18, 2006

Bainbridge- Water conservation in southwest Georgia has some farmers blood boiling. A recent effort to allow new farm wells after a five year conservation moratorium does little to help because of all of the restrictions.

Decatur County is the largest producer of vegetables statewide, to grow those vegetables, it takes water. Local farmers say the new Flint River Basin Regional Water Development and Conservation plan could hurt those crops.

"I would immediately have to quit growing vegetables because as much as it cost, the seed the fertilizer, the plants we have to buy a lot of them are hybrid plants, hybrid seed that are expensive, then I would have to quit immediately," said Gerald Long, Produce Farmer.

Farmers like Long already use irrigation systems that conserve what is used.

"We don't want to use no more water than we have to because either one of two ways we either got to use diesel power or electric power and I think we all know what that's costing us today," said Long.

At a meeting Tuesday night they have some pointed questions for the Environment Protection Division about the plan and restrictions in place to dig new wells.

"You would have to put low pressure sprinklers on your systems. You would have to make sure your end gun shut off, you would have a switch on there so if it rained it would cut off," said Greg Murray, Decatur Co. Farm Board President.

They fear the water restrictions will not only hurt farmers, but will trickle into other southwest Georgia business.

"If we're in this critical use area and can't get a well does that mean that industry that's looking to locate to southwest Georgia that needs water would maybe not locate here," said Murray.

While farmers understand the need to conserve, they say it may be a price southwest Georgia farmers can't afford to pay.

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