Regional water council meets - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Regional water council meets

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The Flint River at the Mitchell County Boat Landing. The Flint River at the Mitchell County Boat Landing.
Cotton in Colquitt.  Agriculture makes up 70% of Southwest Georgia's water usage. Cotton in Colquitt. Agriculture makes up 70% of Southwest Georgia's water usage.
Cotton Hall in Colquitt.  Host of today's meeting of the Lower Flint-Ochlockonee Water Planning Council. Cotton Hall in Colquitt. Host of today's meeting of the Lower Flint-Ochlockonee Water Planning Council.
The counties covered by the Lower Flint-Ochlockonee Water Planning Council. The counties covered by the Lower Flint-Ochlockonee Water Planning Council.
A car crosses the bridge over the Flint River.  Increasing population is putting a strain on water resources. A car crosses the bridge over the Flint River. Increasing population is putting a strain on water resources.

By Jay Polk - bio | email

COLQUITT, GA (WALB) - State leaders are working to protect Georgia's water resources, but that could create conflicts among various regions in the state.

Ten councils are studying water use and needs around the state.

The one for our area met today to talk about the vital resource.

The Flint River is serene and beautiful. But it could become threatened. What could cause this river that has run for thousands of years to run low?

Richard Royal, the Chairman of the Lower Flint - Ochlocknee Water Planning Council said, "if we don't have proper planning in water use, there could be severe consequences."

Georgia's population growth is putting stress on the state's water resources.  So in 2008, the General Assembly created ten regional water planning councils.  The Lower Flint Ochlocknee Water Planning Council covers the 14 counties in Southwest Georgia.  It's a big name for a group with a big job.

"We're looking at the resources that we have in our particular region, the usage of water in our region. And trying to develop a plan that would create good stewardship," said Royal.

For help in creating that plan, they've turned to the state Environmental Protection Division. What can they provide?  Tim Cash, the Assistant Branch Chief for the EPD tells us:  "information about surface water availability, groundwater availability and the water quality.

Not surprisingly, they found water usage is different in each region. Royal said that here in South Georgia:  "about 70% of the water usage is agricultural use."

But in other regions water usage comes from different sources. So EPD has another role to play as well.

"The needs of downstream users has to be considered in the regional water planning process," said Cash.

And to make sure that conflicts between regions are kept to a minimum, the councils also have to communicate with each other.

"The adjoining water councils - like the Middle Chattahootchie and the Upper Flint - we're all working together so that we can have a consensus on our efforts," said Royal.

The bottom line is to protect this resource for future generations.

Cash said that, "it's a resource that also has to be managed with great care."

To make sure that future generations get to enjoy it in the years ahead.

Each council must file their report by May 2nd.

After a public comment period a final plan will be adopted in September.

You can get to our regional water council's web site by clicking here.

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