Friday, September 19, 2008

Georgia Water Coalition Urges Governor Perdue to Embrace Cost-Effective Water Solutions in Tight Fiscal Times

Members of the Georgia Water Coalition (GWC) today (September 18, 2008) urge Governor Sonny Perdue, after he delivered his annual State of the Environment speech, to continue to recognize the importance of water conservation by embracing water efficiency as the cheapest, most timely solution to addressing our water shortage.

“The Governor can show real leadership by investing in water assessments and water efficiency to get the fastest and cheapest water savings,” said Joe Cook, Upper Coosa Riverkeeper. “It’s been shown that water conservation and efficiency are the most cost-effective ways of extending our water supplies. Because of the fiscal crunch, our state may not be able to afford new reservoirs, but investing in water conservation is very economical.”

According to the Georgia EPD, water efficiency measures cost a mere $.50 to $1.40 per 1,000 gallons of water saved while reservoirs cost $4,000.00 per 1,000 gallons.

In October 2008, Governor Perdue mandated water utilities and permit holders in 61 North Georgia counties to reduce their water use by 10 percent. Later, the Governor and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) reported that November water use in those counties was reduced by 350 million gallons a day – an amount above and beyond the 10 percent goal and December water use was down 13 percent compared to the previous year.

“We applaud Governor Perdue for his past efforts to require water conservation and urge him to support the most cost-effective, most timely solutions to address our ongoing water shortage,” said Jim Stokes, President of the Georgia Conservancy.

The Georgia Water Coalition today urged the Governor to look at more fiscally sound approaches during these tight times, such as conservation pricing, retrofits of old-fashioned indoor plumbing, drought-tolerant landscaping, fixing leaks in municipal water lines and requiring sewer hook-up for homes instead of septic tanks in urbanized areas.

For example, according to the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District (Metro District), the Metro Atlanta area could reduce its demand for water by 91 million gallons per day (mgd) by 2035 if these top 12 top water efficiency measures are implemented (in mgd):

Conservation pricing: 24.0

Replace older, inefficient plumbing fixtures: 9.2

Pre-rinse spray valve retrofit education program: 0.0

Rain sensor shut off devices on irrigation controllers: 2.5

Multi-family sub-metering requirement: 4.8

Water loss reduction: 36.7

Residential water audits: 0.2

Low flow showerhead & aerator distribution: 1.9

Commercial water audits: 8.7

Public education program: 1.3

HETs & high efficiency urinals in government buildings: 0.9

Require car washes to recycle water: 0.6

The Metro District projected a 152.3 mgd reduction in water supply if these conservation measures are implemented and combined with water savings that will automatically occur over time as people upgrade appliances and fixtures. That’s enough water to quench the thirst of each one of DeKalb County’s 700,000-plus residents (or fill up the Georgia Aquarium more than 12 times every day.)

“We can create new economic opportunities across the state by requiring all sectors of water users to get more out of a gallon of water,” said April Ingle, Director of the Georgia River Network. “History shows that incredible innovations are made in the toughest of economic times if the political will exists.”

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