Population growth stirs worries about stress on region’s water supply | ajc.com

 

By Leon Stafford

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

When Colin Cavill began planning the 325-unit Enso Atlanta apartments near Grant Park three years ago, water was at the top of his mind.

Colin Cavill focused on water conservation when he developed the Enso Atlanta apartments in Grant Park, which, among other things, has a saltwater pool and a cistern for  rainwater harvesting that holds over 76,000 gallons.

Phil Skinner, AJC Colin Cavill focused on water conservation when he developed the Enso Atlanta apartments in Grant Park, which, among other things, has a saltwater pool and a cistern for rainwater harvesting that holds over 76,000 gallons.

 

Simply put: The metro’s area’s supply is limited, and he didn’t want to make matters worse.

So Cavill — who says his company, Capital 33, wanted to “help reduce our footprint” — developed the complex as a green project. Toilets and faucets are low-flow, shower heads are water-efficient, and a cistern collects water for the landscaping.

Cavill’s efforts may need to be become the norm as the state struggles with its limited water supply, experts say.

Metro Atlanta grew by 1 million people over the past decade, according to the U.S. census, and water — or lack thereof — could decide its continued strength as a region, the experts said.

“Growth goes where the water is and not vice versa,” said Gil Rogers, senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center.

Larry Neal, a senior principal for Mactec Engineering and Consulting, which has worked with the state on drinking water assessments, said a solution is critical for job growth. If water supply is stretched thin, it could be more expensive for business to tap. That could dissuade prospects from considering locating in metro Atlanta.

“If there is uncertainty,” he said, “it can cause a business to steer away. … You don’t want water to become the limiting factor in any given area.”

The state recognizes the risks. It has authorized the construction of reservoirs, created a Water Supply Task Force and adopted some conservation measures. Many cities and counties in the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District, which includes metro Atlanta, are offering rebates to homeowners who replace older toilets with low-flow models.

One of the biggest challenges remains the state’s dispute with Alabama and Florida over access to Lake Lanier. U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson ruled in 2009 that it was illegal for the Army Corps of Engineers to draw water from the lake to meet the needs of 3 million metro residents. Magnuson set a July 2012 deadline for the states to resolve the dispute. Otherwise, metro Atlanta would be limited to the same amount of water it received in the mid-1970s, when the population was less than one-third its current size. Georgia is appealing the ruling.

“Some of our issues are the litigation and uncertainty about the future,” said Pat Stevens, chief of environmental planning at the Atlanta Regional Commission.

Stevens said that despite the population growth, water use in metro Atlanta is down. She said the population in the North Georgia water district grew 28 percent between 2000 and 2009. Usage, however, was down to 512 million gallons of water a day in 2009, compared with a high in 2006 of 602 million gallons.

A number of factors led to the reduction, including conservation, severe water restrictions during several years of drought and the economic downturn, which may have forced residents to curtail tapping water they could not afford.

Also, 2009 was a rainy year, lessening the need to water yards and gardens.

“It really rained a lot that year. Actually the last year that was more close to our norm was in 2006,” Stevens said. The metro area’s rainfall was 69.4 inches in 2009 and 48.5 inches in 2006.

Alan Wexler, president of Databank Atlanta, a r, said if water were to become less abundant, it could lead to restrictions that would put commercial and residential real estate projects on hold. That happened in the years of drought in 2007 and 2008.

Solving the issue is critical because the economy has stymied real estate growth the past few years. When the recovery comes, no one wants to be sidelined because of water, he said.

“You have so many factors that are fluid right now,” he said.

Population growth stirs worries about stress on region’s water supply  | ajc.com.

GA Wins One Battle in Water Wars over Lake Lanier

via GA Wins One Battle in Water Wars over Lake Lanier – 11Alive.com | WXIA | Atlanta, GA.
Posted By –  The Associated Press 

Last Updated On:  7/22/2010 12:11:53 PM

 

ATLANTA — A federal judge has rejected demands from Florida that more water be released from Lake Lanier, Metro Atlanta’s main source for drinking water.

U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson on Wednesday rejected Florida’s request that more water be released from the lake to help endangered or threatened species in the Apalachicola and other rivers. Those species are the Gulf sturgeon, fat threeridge mussel and the purple bankclimber mussel.

“Judge Magnuson’s rejection of Florida’s efforts to seek a judicial decree for higher downstream flows that were not supported by science or the law is a major victory for Georgia,” Governor Sonny Perdue said in a statement Thursday. “Any kind of higher guaranteed flow for Florida would have put a strain on Georgia communities up and down the Chattahoochee River. We always felt the use of the Endangered Species Act was just a ruse to try and wring more water out of Georgia. Judge Magnuson recognized that and issued a common-sense ruling that allows the three states to continue meaningful talks.”

Judge Magnuson has threatened to severely restrict Metro Atlanta’s use of the reservoir by 2012 unless leaders in Georgia, Alabama and Florida can strike a deal.

“With this ruling in hand, it is time for the three governors to come back together at the negotiating table and continue our ongoing efforts to finally reach a water-sharing agreement that benefits all three states,” Perdue said. “We stand ready and willing to engage at the earliest opportunity possible.”

Magnuson earlier ruled that Atlanta has little legal right to drinking water from Lake Lanier.

State files appeal in water case

Source
Atlanta Business Chronicle – by Dave Williams Staff Writer

Lake Lanier was intended as a water supply for metro Atlanta from its inception, the state of Georgia contends in its appeal of a federal court ruling that threatens to cut off most of that water.

The appeal, filed Thursday with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta, argues that U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson misinterpreted the intent of Congress in authorizing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build the federal reservoir in 1946.

In ruling last summer that Lake Lanier was never intended as a regional water supply, Magnuson gave Georgia until July 2012 to reach a water sharing agreement with Alabama and Florida governing the Chattahoochee River system.

Otherwise, under his order, water allocations from Lanier would be rolled back to levels not seen since the mid-1970s.

“When Congress authorized the Corps to build Buford Dam, it approved plans specifically stating that releases would be made to provide water supply to metropolitan Atlanta and that such releases would increase as the area developed,” Georgia’s lawyers wrote.

The state’s appeal went on to argue that even if the judge was correct in his conclusions, his order metes out excessive punishment to metro Atlanta water customers.

“The order reaches far more broadly than is necessary to rectify any violation of those statutes,” according to the appeal. “It ignores the substantial likelihood that the Corps would be able to meet some (even if not all) of Atlanta’s current and future water needs and prevents the Corps from examining that possibility.”

While the appeal unfolds, Georgia’s lawyers are continuing to negotiate with their counterparts from the other states on a water allocation deal.

A third prong in Perdue’s water strategy, legislation mandating water conservation in Georgia, passed the General Assembly last month and is awaiting the governor’s signature.

ecoTransitions Promotes EPA’s “Fix a Leak Week” March 15–21, 2010

Marietta, GA—Because minor water leaks account for more than 1 trillion gallons of water wasted each year in U.S. homes, ecoTransitions is promoting “Fix a Leak Week,” March 15 through 21, 2010. Fix a Leak Week is sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) WaterSense® program as an annual reminder to Americans to check household plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems for leaks.

“Leaks can add up to more than 10,000 gallons of water wasted at home every year—that’s enough to fill a backyard swimming pool,” said Andrea Paulinellli, CEO and President. “ecoTransitions is participating in Fix a Leak Week to help homeowners save money on their utility bills and to help save water in our community and for future generations. Atlanta may lose its rights to access water from Lake Lanier in 2012. If that is the case, Georgia must undertake the difficult — and costly — process of either living on less or finding more water. By replacing old, water-guzzling fixtures in our households, we can make a great start in reducing our indoor water use by up to 50 percent.”

To help consumers here in Georgia and across the country save water, ecoTransitions and WaterSense are promoting ways to identify and repair dripping faucets, running toilets, and leaky showerheads. In most cases, fixture replacement parts pay for themselves quickly and can be installed by do-it-yourselfers, your favorite handy person, plumber, or WaterSense irrigation partner. Following are a few water-saving tips:

  • Reduce faucet leaks by checking faucet washers and gaskets for wear and, if necessary, replace the faucet with a WaterSense labeled model. 
  • Leaky toilets are most often the result of a worn toilet flapper. Replacing the rubber flapper is a quick fix that could save a home with a constantly running toilet up to 200 gallons of water per day. If the leaky toilet uses 3.5 gallons per flush, replace it with a High Efficiency Toilet and save hundreds of Dollars per year. 
  • For a leaky garden hose, replace the nylon or rubber hose washer and ensure a tight connection to the spigot using pipe tape and a wrench. 
  • Landscape irrigation systems should be checked each spring before use to make sure they are not damaged by frost or freezing. 

If homeowners have to replace a plumbing fixture, ecoTransitions reminds them to look for the WaterSense label. WaterSense labeled toilets, faucets, and (soon) showerheads have been independently tested and certified to save water and perform as well as or better than standard models. For more information on Fix a Leak Week, visit www.epa.gov/watersense/fixaleak.

 

 
 
 

 

About ecoTransitions Inc Located in Marietta, Georgia, near Atlanta, ecoTransitions is a supplier for WaterSense labeled Caroma Dual Flush toilets. These High Efficiency Toilets (HET’s) qualify for the $100 Toilet rebate available in most Metro Atlanta Counties.  On the Web: http://www.ecotransitions.com , Email: sales@ecotransitions.com, Phone: (678) 313-9260.

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WaterSense, a partnership program sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, seeks to protect the future of our nation’s water supply by offering people a simple way to use less water. For more information on WaterSense, and for a full list of labeled products and WaterSense irrigation and builder partners, visit www.epa.gov/watersense.

Georgia’s Drought on my mind…

Georgia’s current drought did not begin a few days or a few weeks ago. Various drought events throughout the state since spring 2006 combined with a lack of efficient water use habits helped bring the state to where it is today. Indoor Water Conservation Cannot Be Overemphasized! Conserving water temporarily, then returning to inefficient water use habits will not help alleviate the situation. Water conservation must become a way of life for all Georgians, according to officials with the state’s Drought Response Unified Command (DRUC).