Friday, December 19, 2008

Keep Exposed Pipes and Hoses Protected

Pleasantly warm weather has returned to much of Georgia this week. But it’s still winter, and freezing temperatures will be back. Don’t forget to keep outdoor pipes and hoses protected.
Freezing temperatures can cause the water in an exposed pipe or hose to expand. If the water expands too much, the pipe or hose bursts. It’s that simple.

"With home irrigation systems, you probably wouldn't know you had any pipe damage until you turned it on for the first spring watering," said Kerry Harrison, a University of Georgia Cooperative Extension irrigation specialist.

Most in-ground sprinkler pipes will be OK. Only the top 2 inches of the ground will freeze in most of Georgia. Pipes should be well below this level. Other irrigation components, such as backflow-prevention valves, are at ground level, though, and could be in danger.

If there are any exposed valves or pipes around your home, tape them up or "use a good old sack to wrap them," Harrison said. Home-improvement stores have many tapes, foams and gadgets to keep these pipes warm on cold, winter nights.

The tips of sprinkler heads can hold water. When frozen, they can rupture. The whole sprinkler system holds water, too, even when it isn't being used. Don't forget to drain the system, Harrison said. If you don't drain it properly in the winter, your sprinkler could be a geyser when you turn it on next spring.

If you've bought a home with an installed irrigation system, find this drain valve. Some systems are equipped with automatic drain valves.

Don't forget about outside water hoses. You can do two things:

* Leave the hoses hanging outside. But disconnect them from faucets.

* Disconnect, drain and store hoses someplace with a constant temperature. This will prolong the life of hoses.

If you leave hoses undrained outside in the winter, don't move them or touch them in freezing weather. You could break them as frozen hoses are fragile.

Private water users and rural residents with wells should check out their main water pump. Usually a quarter-inch pipe connects to the pressure switch. If it's metal, it likely won’t freeze. But if it's plastic, it might freeze and burst. This could cause the water pump to fail or continue to run and cause some major winter repairs.

If all these precautions fail and a pipe bursts, there's still one thing to remember: "Know where your main water cutoff is," Harrison said.

By Brad Haire
University of Georgia

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Statement from Governor Sonny Perdue Concerning Brief Filed on Georgia Petition for Supreme Court Review of Water Case

Nov. 20th
Governor Sonny Perdue issued the following statement today concerning a brief filed by federal government with the U.S. Supreme Court on a Georgia request for the Court to review one issue of the ongoing tri-state water negotiations:

“I am encouraged that the federal government strongly agreed with Georgia that the D.C. Circuit ruling was wrong when it set aside the settlement agreement that would have resolved a large part of the tri-state water wars. I find it extremely puzzling that the federal government would file a brief arguing the court ruling was wrong but yet does not want to fix the obvious mistakes. There is no question that this case is clearly important enough for the Supreme Court’s review.

All three states agree that this case is very important, and I believe review by the Supreme Court would result in Georgia’s position being upheld and a major piece of the water negotiations resolved.”

Friday, November 21, 2008

More Variable and Uncertain Water Supply: Global Warming’s Wake-Up Call for the Southeastern U.S.

The second major drought of the last decade is a wake-up call for the Southeast United States, showing the region’s vulnerability due to its reliance on scarce supplies of fresh water.

The region has been operating under the best-case water availability for the last 50 years, during which drought conditions were relatively rare. But, the region has historically experienced regular droughts. Global warming is the future wildcard, potentially causing both more extremely dry periods and more heavy rainfall events. At the same time, warming-induced sea-level rise will increase the risk of saltwater intrusion into important groundwater aquifers.

A new report from National Wildlife Federation offers the latest scientific research on global warming and water supplies, competition for resources, demographic factors, and how to better prepare for managing the region’s water availability challenges.

“Since 1960, the region’s population doubled and water use for municipalities, irrigation, and thermoelectric power more than tripled. The Southeast is one of the fastest growing parts of the country,” said Amanda Staudt, Climate Scientist for National Wildlife Federation.

In fact, 58 of the 100 fastest growing counties in the nation are in the nine states of the Southeast. The report includes information about Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

More Variable and Uncertain Water Supply: Global Warming’s Wake-Up Call for the Southeastern U.S. details how:

Water supplies in the Southeastern United States will be more variable and uncertain in the coming decades;
Rapidly expanding population, irrigation, and thermoelectric power use has increased water demand;
Recent droughts underscore the Southeast’s vulnerability;
The astonishing biodiversity of the Southeast is at risk; and
The Southeast should plan for increasing variability in water supplies.
Strategies for meeting the increasing demand for water in the Southeast have not typically accounted for the regular occurrence of drought, as illustrated by recent droughts. During 2007 alone, crop losses are estimated at more than $1.3 billion and wildfires ravaged 600,000 acres in Georgia and Florida.

Climate changes will affect water supplies to communities and put the amazing biodiversity of the Southeast at risk. The river basins of the Southeast are globally renowned for fish, mussels, salamanders and other freshwater species, many of which are already imperiled. Climate change—and the increasingly extreme weather patterns it brings—now poses new threats to these species.

“Global warming presents new challenges for managing America’s water resources, especially in our southeastern states,” added Dr. Staudt. “To prevent the worst impacts of climate change and limit the impacts on communities and wildlife, we must reduce global warming pollution.”

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fayette County's Whitewater High School Student Inventors Win $10,000 MIT Grant

The five Whitewater High students who won a $10,000 grant from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to make a prototype invention of a combined dehydrator/condenser have caught the attention of the Discovery Channel.

Their invention, aimed at dehydrating algae for use as biodiesel while simultaneously collecting purified water for drinking and other uses, is now featured on Discovery’s website as part of the channel’s sustainable news section. This will bring a lot of exposure to the students since almost six million people a day sign on to the website.

“This is really a honor for our students to be featured. People all over the world will know about their work and achievement,” says Carolyn Smith, one of the teachers working with the students on the invention.

The InvenTeam at Whitewater was one of only 16 high school teams across the country chosen to receive the Lemelson-MIT grant that will enable them to build a prototype of their idea and present it at a conference at MIT this spring. They are the first team in Fayette County to win a grant and only the second from Georgia.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

VSU Hosts First Water for Life Event Nov. 22

Several student organizations will host the first ever Water for Life celebration on Saturday, Nov. 22. at Valdosta State University.

Members of the VSU and local communities have a chance to participate in a sprint triathlon and concert benefit. The triathlon will include a 300-yard swim, a six-mile bike ride and a two-mile run starting at 6:50 a.m. at Campus Recreation with a registration fee of $25 for individuals and $50 for relay teams of three.

People are encouraged to register before Friday, Nov. 14, in order to receive a free t-shirt and a guaranteed place in the competition. Registered members must be at least 15 years of age and provide his/her own bike and department of transportation-approved helmet. Participants can register late from 6:30-6:50 a.m. on competition day.

A free concert will also take place on the front lawn from 3-8 p.m. by local band Soular 7. Students are encouraged to bring a blanket and enjoy the casual community event.

The triathlon will benefit WaterAid America, which focuses on improving water quality and sanitation for the underprivileged. The organization reaches out to 17 different countries and has already improved water quality for more than 11 million people. The foundation installs sustainable technologies to provide clean water access to contaminated communities. Locals install the equipment themselves with facilitation from WaterAid representatives.

“I decided before graduating in December how cool it would be if we could get a bunch of people to do something healthy in the community to raise a bunch of money to contribute to the cause of healthier living,” Ben said.

Call Ben Hortman for registration details, more information and the specified bike/run route at (678) 873-3898 or visit . Businesses and individuals can donate to the cause at .

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Drought Tightens its Grip on North Georgia

Drought conditions continue to grow harsher across north Georgia. Water levels in reservoirs and streams are at or near record lows across most of the region. Groundwater levels are also low.

Lake Lanier, a primary water source for metro Atlanta, is at a record low for mid-November. The previous mid-November record low was at this time last year.

Hartwell, Russell and Clarks Hill lakes in the Savannah River basin are at record low levels. Both Russell and Clarks Hill have less than two feet of usable pool left. Hartwell water levels are dropping very quickly in order to meet downstream needs. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers reports that the remaining conservation pool for Hartwell is 34 percent, for Russell it’s 32 percent and for Clarks Hill it’s 10 percent.

Even with normal seasonal rains, it’s doubtful that Lanier, Hartwell, Russell or Clarks Hill lakes will fully recover this winter.

Major rivers that are at record low flows for mid-November include the Etowah River at Canton, the Chattahoochee River near Cornelia, Chestatee River near Dahlonega, the Middle Oconee River at Athens, the Broad River near Bell, the Little River near Washington, the Oconee River at Dublin and the Altamaha River near Baxley.

Because of the extremely low stream flows, many counties in north Georgia have had their drought level classifications changed to a more intense level.

Exceptional drought – the most severe drought level - now exists north and east of a line running through Lincoln, Wilkes, Olgethorpe, Oconee, Barrow, Gwinnett, Hall, Forsyth, Cherokee, Pickens, Gilmer and Fannin counties. This region includes Athens, Gainesville and Atlanta’s northern suburbs.

Extreme drought conditions are now in Columbia, Richmond, McDuffie, Glascock, Taliaferro, Warren, Hancock, Greene, Morgan, Walton, Gwinnett, north Fulton and Cherokee counties. The extreme conditions are also in parts of Pickens, Gilmer, Fannin and Murray counties.

Most of the remaining area north of the fall line is in severe drought. Heard, Troup, Harris and most of Talbot and Muscogee counties are in moderate drought.

The ocean-atmosphere system is in what climatologist call a neutral pattern, meaning it is in neither an El Niño nor a La Niña pattern. Historically, neutral-pattern winters have been very variable.

There is no strong indication that the winter of 2008-09 will be abnormally wet or dry. The trend over the past 15 years, however, has been for dry winters.

There is also no strong indication that the winter will be abnormally warm or cool. An important historical observation is that every major devastating freeze has occurred during a neutral-pattern winter.

With recent winters being our best guide, the most prudent response is to assume that this winter will tend toward the dry side. Water conservation efforts should continue.

Additional drought information and updates can be found at Automated weather data across Georgia is at Daily rainfall data is at U.S. Geological Survey data is at Water conservation information is available at

By David Emory Stooksbury
University of Georgia

David Emory Stooksbury is the state climatologist and a professor in engineering and atmospheric sciences at the University of Georgia.

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Friday, October 31, 2008

The Coca-Cola System Announces New Global Targets for Water Conservation and Climate Protection in Partnership with WWF

(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Coca-Cola Company, in partnership with World Wildlife Fund (WWF), today announced ambitious new targets to improve water efficiency and reduce carbon emissions within its system-wide operations, while promoting sustainable agricultural practices and helping to conserve the world’s most important freshwater basins.

“Our sustainability as a business demands a relentless focus on efficiency in our use of natural resources. These performance targets are one way we are engaging to improve our management of water and energy,” said Muhtar Kent, president and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company.

“In this resource constrained world, successful businesses will find ways to achieve growth while using fewer resources,” said Carter Roberts, president and CEO of WWF-US. “The Coca-Cola Company’s commitment to conservation responds to the imperative to solve the global water and climate crisis.”

The partnership, announced by WWF and The Coca-Cola Company in 2007 with $20 million in funding, has now been extended an additional two years (through 2012) with the Company providing $3.75 million in new funding.

The Coca-Cola Company also joined WWF’s Climate Savers program in which leading corporations from around the world work with WWF to dramatically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. By 2010, Climate Savers companies will collectively cut carbon emissions by 14 million tons annually – the equivalent to taking more than 3 million cars off the road each year.

Water Efficiency -- Saving 50 billion liters in 2012

The Coca-Cola system will improve its water efficiency 20 percent by 2012, compared to a baseline year 2004. While water use is expected to increase as the business grows, this water efficiency target will eliminate approximately 50 billion liters of that increase in 2012.

To support this efficiency target, The Coca-Cola Company and WWF have developed a Water Efficiency Toolkit to help reduce water consumption within bottling plants. This software-based instruction manual has been distributed to managers and operators throughout the Coca-Cola system, providing strategies to shrink the water footprint of their operations.

Climate Protection -- Preventing 2 million tons of CO2 emissions

The Company has set two emissions reduction targets: 1) grow the business, not the carbon system-wide and 2) a 5 percent absolute reduction in Annex 1 (developed) countries. The emissions targets apply to manufacturing operations in the year 2015 compared to a baseline year of 2004.

The Coca-Cola Company and its bottlers anticipate substantial volume growth globally during this period, thus growing the business without growing the carbon is a significant commitment. Without intervention, emissions would grow proportional to volume and reach 7.3 million metric tons in 2015. Thus, the global commitment will prevent the release of more than 2 million metric tons of CO2 in 2015 – the equivalent of planting 600,000 acres of trees.

Supply Chain Sustainability

The Coca-Cola Company also will work with WWF to promote more sustainable agricultural practices in an effort to reduce the impact of its supply chain on water resources. This work will initially focus on sugarcane production. The Coca-Cola Company and WWF are working with the Better Sugarcane Initiative to establish standards, evaluate suppliers and set goals for the purchase of sugar. The Coca-Cola Company will identify two additional commodities on which to work in 2009.

Freshwater Conservation

The Coca-Cola system and WWF are working together to conserve some of the world’s most important freshwater resources, including the Yangtze, Mekong, Danube, Rio Grande/Rio Bravo, Lakes Niassa and Chiuta, the Mesoamerican Reef catchments, and the rivers and streams in the southeastern region of the United States. More than a dozen production plants and/or bottlers in the areas surrounding these rivers are developing and implementing water stewardship plans to serve as models throughout the Coca-Cola system.

“Water and energy conservation are areas where we can truly make a difference. Last year, we set a goal to return to communities and to nature an amount of water equal to what we use in our beverages and their production. These targets support our work to achieve that goal,” said Kent. “The expansion of our partnership with WWF demonstrates our shared dedication to achieving large-scale results, and a grounded understanding that collaboration is key if we are to help address the world’s water challenges.”

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More Than 2 Million Acres are now Enrolled in USDA'S Wetlands Reserve Program

Agriculture Under Secretary of Natural Resources and Environment Mark Rey announced October 21, 2008, that landowners have enrolled more than 2 million acres in U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wetlands Reserve Program, a significant contribution toward increasing the Nation's wetlands.

"We have gained wetland acreage, thanks to the stewardship ethic of the Nation's farmers and ranchers," Rey said. "Because of this achievement, USDA was able to help President Bush exceed his goal of improving, restoring, and protecting at least 3 million acres of wetlands in less than five years."

Rey announced the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) milestone at the farm of Charles and Patricia McCain in Albion, Pa., about 25 miles southwest of Erie. The McCains recently enrolled 342 acres, or slightly more than half their farm, into the program. Pennsylvania landowners have enrolled 2,194 acres in WRP since the program was first introduced in 1992.

There is WRP enrolled acreage in each state. New WRP enrollments in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Vermont contributed to this conservation achievement of having more than 2 million acres enrolled in WRP. Enrolled acres for each state are available at:

WRP, administered by USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, was reauthorized in the 2008 Farm Bill. It provides technical and financial assistance to eligible landowners to address wetland, wildlife habitat, soil, water, and related natural resource concerns on private agricultural land. The program provides financial incentives to protect, restore, and enhance wetlands on their property. This voluntary program strives to achieve the greatest wetland functions and values and optimum wildlife habitat on every enrolled acre.

The enrollment options for landowners are permanent easements, 30-year easements, and a restoration cost-share agreement, as well as 30-year contracts on acreage owned by Indian Tribes.

Wetlands are biologically diverse and dynamic ecosystems that support diverse populations of wildlife, plants, and fish. They supply life-sustaining habitat for hundreds of species, including many of the Nation's endangered and threatened species. They provide a protective buffer for our towns and cities against floods and storm surges by absorbing excess water. They also buffer coastal areas from erosion. Often called "nature's sponges," wetlands help protect water quality by filtering out pollutants and offer aesthetic and recreational opportunities.

"The presence of wetlands in the Midwest and South protected private agricultural land in States ravaged by recent flooding from even further damage," Rey said.

Additional information on WRP and other conservation programs is available at

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Georgia Republican Delegation: Obama sides with Florida on water issues, disregards Georgia’s needs

Georgia’s seven Republican House Members today joined Senators Chambliss and Isakson in sending a letter to Senator Barack Obama, D-Ill, expressing their concern with campaign promises he made to Florida residents regarding his plans to interfere with water allocation issues in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint and Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa river basins.

The text of the letter is as follows:

Dear Senator Obama,

We are writing to express our disappointment with comments made October 16, 2008 by you and your campaign relating to water allocation issues in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) and Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa (ACT) River basins. As you may know, these river basins serve both Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. While we appreciate your interest in the tri-state water issues, the comments by you and your campaign reflect a lack of understanding of the scope of the problems in the ACF and ACT basins, a lack of understanding of the requirements of the Army Corps of Engineers with regards to the ACF and ACT basins under federal law, and a blatant disregard for the needs of the residents of Georgia.

According to your campaign’s statement, you “would direct the National Research Council (NRC) to conduct a study to assess the water availability, supply options and demand-management alternatives that factor into ACF River System usage, as well as the impact of freshwater flow on the ecology of the Apalachicola River and Bay.’ You also said, “As President, I will make protecting Florida’s water resources a priority.”

As you may know, the Army Corps of Engineers is required under federal law to update the water control manuals for the ACF and ACT basins and recently announced it would begin doing so in the ACT basin. We are pleased to hear from Secretary of the Army Pete Geren that the Corps is moving forward with updating these manuals, because it will allow the Corps to make smarter decisions in their management of these river systems. We have underscored to him how important this action is. As you also may know such an update would include studies to assess water supply and demand, and environmental management practices for ALL the users and stakeholders in the basins, not just those on the Apalachicola River and Bay. To ask the Corps to ignore its responsibilities under federal law in favor of the residents of Florida is a clear affront to the residents of Georgia.

We have continually worked to get Georgia, Florida and Alabama together and to force the Corps of Engineers to update a 20-year-old Water Control Plan for the Alabama –Coosa-Tallapoosa and Apalachicola -Chattahoochee-Flint River Basins. We have consistently reached out to the Florida and Alabama congressional delegations in an effort to maintain a united federal presence in support of a tri-state agreement.

Senator, your recent comments with regards to protecting Florida’s water resources simply halts any progress which would furthermore drive a divisive wedge into a fragile coalition. Should your Presidential campaign be successful, we hope that you will revisit your position regarding the ACF and ACT river basins.

From the headwaters of the Chattahoochee in Georgia to the Gulf of Mexico in Florida, we have worked to find a solution that benefits not only the people of our state, but all those who reside in the river basins. It is unfortunate that your comments will likely undo the good work the three states have accomplished thus far.

Senator Saxby Chambliss
Senator Johnny Isakson
Congressman Paul Broun
Congressman Nathan Deal
Congressman Phil Gingrey
Congressman Jack Kingston
Congressman John Linder
Congressman Tom Price
Congressman Lynn Westmoreland

Friday, October 17, 2008

Georgia State to Host Regional Geomorphology, Hydrology Research Conference October 25

Georgia State University’s Department of Geosciences will present a one-day research conference on Saturday, Oct. 25 which will bring together advanced undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and professionals.

The first-annual Greater Atlanta Geomorphology and Hydrology Research Conference will be held from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Room 718 in the General Classroom Building at Decatur Street and Peachtree Center Avenue.

The forum is designed for those involved in the study of geomorphology (the study of landforms and the processes that shape them), hydrology (the study of water resources and water movement throughout the Earth) and related fields to present research in a friendly setting, and to enhance regional collaboration in these fields, as described by Jordan Clayton, a Georgia State assistant professor in Geosciences.

“This is a great way for participants to meet others working in these research areas, and to get valuable feedback on ongoing projects,” said Clayton, whose research interests include the impact of land-use changes on streams and other hydrologic systems.

Participants include Georgia State students and faculty, as well as researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey, Georgia Tech, Kennesaw State University, the University of Alabama, the University of Georgia, and Golder Associates Inc.

For more information about the conference, contact Clayton at 404-413-5791 or Further information, including research abstracts, is available online at

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Troup County's Long Cane Creek Project Nears Completion

Local efforts currently in progress are nearing completion on Long Cane Creek, and nearing completion. In conjunction with Ronny D. Jones Enterprises Inc., the culvert project has recently entered its second phase of progress, during which the portable dam system was moved and reconfigured to render construction possible.

The system, appropriately named Portadam, allows for a versatile range of water diversion purposes.

Due to its innovative design, it was maneuvered to address the specific on-site needs of the Ronny D. Jones Enterprises, Inc. crew, increasing the overall timeliness and efficiency of this municipal project.

Portadam’s technology makes use of a steel frame structure that supports an impermeable fabric liner, which can form a wall capable of holding back up to ten feet of standing or running water.

As a result, working areas that were previously hazardous or hidden under water are dry and easily accessible for work and repair.
Portadam allows water to be temporarily diverted and is environmentally preferred over sandbags or cumbersome cofferdams.
The system literally parts the water in order to allow for access to or construction of structures which would typically be submerged.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Georgia’s Drought Gets Worse on Dry September

Tropical Storm Fay brought beneficial rain to Georgia in late August. But a very dry September has led to the return of low stream flows across the state and worsened drought conditions.
All streams in Georgia except those originating in the extreme southern counties are extremely low. Most streams in the state’s northern half are at or near record low flows for this time of the year.

Because of the extremely low stream flows, many counties have had their drought level classification changed to a more intense drought level.

The region now in extreme drought is north and east of a line from Burke, Jefferson, Washington, Hancock, Putnam, Morgan, Walton, Gwinnett, north Fulton, Cherokee, Pickens and Murray counties. This includes the cities of Athens, Augusta, Blairsville, Clayton, Cumming, Gainesville and Madison. Extreme drought conditions occur about once in 50 years.

Severe drought now exists north of a line from Screven, Jenkins, Candler, Toombs, Jeff Davis, Telfair, Ben Hill, Wilcox, Dooly, Macon, Schley, Marion, Chattahoochee counties. It includes Atlanta, Columbus, Macon and Rome. Severe drought conditions occur about once in 20 years.

Moderate drought conditions exists in Appling, Bacon, Bullock, Coffee, Crisp, Effingham, Evans, Irwin, Pierce, Quitman, Stewart, Sumter, Tattnall, Turner and Webster counties. Moderate drought conditions occur about once in 10 years.

Mild drought conditions are found in Atkinson, Berrien, Brantley, Clay, Lanier, Lee, Long, Randolph, Terrell, Tift, northern Ware, Wayne and Worth counties. Mild drought conditions occur about once in seven years.

Abnormally dry counties are Baker, Brooks, Bryan, Calhoun, Camden, Charlton, Chatham, Clinch, Colquitt, Cook, Decatur, Dougherty, Early, Echols, Glynn, Grady, Liberty, Lowndes, McIntosh, Miller, Mitchell, Seminole, Thomas and southern Ware.

The biggest concerns over the next several weeks will be stream flows and soil moisture.

Lake Lanier is at a record low for this time of the year.

In the Savannah River basin, Clarks Hill Reservoir only has 2.78 feet of usable pool remaining, Lake Russell 1.31 feet and Lake Hartwell 19.57 feet. Since Lake Hartwell is at the top of the basin, its water will be used to support downstream reservoirs and other water needs. Lake Hartwell’s water level is expected to drop significantly over the next several weeks.

Farm ponds are showing the lack of rain. Beef and dairy producers are having to move cattle for drinking water purposes or find alternative water sources.

Low soil moisture in the fall can be good for harvesting some crops. But not all farmers benefit from the dry conditions. The dry weather will likely prevent some from getting another cutting of hay. It will also inhibit the planting of small grains and over seeding of pastures.

The probability for meaningful drought relief over the next couple of weeks is low. October is still in the tropical storm season. But the likelihood of tropical weather impacting Georgia diminishes rapidly as the month progresses.

Additional drought information and updates can be found at

Automated weather data across Georgia is at Daily rainfall from CoCoRaHS is available at U.S. Geological Survey data is at

Water conservation information is available at

By David Emory Stooksbury
University of Georgia

David Emory Stooksbury is the state climatologist and a professor of engineering and atmospheric sciences with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Helping Hands Clean Up Creek Beds and Banks

PRNewswire/ -- Employees of Georgia Electric Membership Corp. (EMC), Oglethorpe Power Corp., Georgia Transmission Corp. and Georgia System Operations Corp. will join forces on Saturday, Oct. 4 to lend support and considerable "sweat equity" during Hands on Atlanta (HOA) Day.

More than 140 employees, friends and family members will gather at Mason Mill Park near Toco Hills to clean up the banks and surrounding areas of Burnt Fork Creek. The community service effort will benefit the Rivers Alive project, Georgia's annual volunteer waterway cleanup event. Last year, volunteers collected a ton of trash -- literally, one metric ton -- during the three-hour project.

Hands On Atlanta Day has become the largest centralized day of service in the nation and serves as a catalyst for corporate community service within Hands On Georgia (HOGA) Week, an initiative launched by Gov. Sonny Perdue in 2004. This year, HOGA Week projects will take place in all 159 counties in the state. Last year, more than 68,000 Georgians participated in service projects across the state during HOGA Week.

The mission of Rivers Alive is to create awareness of and involvement in the preservation of Georgia's water resources. Sponsored by the Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources; Georgia Adopt-A-Stream Program and Georgia Dept. of Community Affairs' Keep Georgia Beautiful Program, in cooperation with "Help the Hooch," Rivers Alive is a statewide event that targets cleanups across all waterways in Georgia.

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UGA Responds to Drought with 28 Percent Reduction in Water Use

The University of Georgia has lowered its water usage by 28 percent over the past year, and the university has saved more than $250,000 through conservation and cost-cutting measures and the enthusiastic cooperation of faculty, staff and students.

Less than 12 months after a special water conservation task force called for “serious water-saving measures” to combat a severe drought, UGA has cut water usage by 90 million gallons, according to new data from the Physical Plant Division, which is primarily responsible for water conservation efforts.

Usage is down in virtually every area of campus operations but most spectacularly in research functions where consumption has dropped by one-third, or 52 million gallons.

The task force, composed of faculty, staff, students and administrators, was created in October 2007 as Athens withered under one of the worst droughts in recent history. Six weeks later the group issued a report calling on UGA—Clarke County’s largest water user with an annual consumption of 564 million gallons—to reduce short-term use by as much as 25 percent without seriously harming teaching and research. The report also recommended developing strategies for long-range conservation and steps to increase UGA’s water supply now and in the future.

Since last November, water usage for instructional purposes is down from 72 million gallons to 57 million gallons and usage in residence halls is down from 64 million gallons to about 56 million gallons, according to the physical plant data.

Usage for irrigation purposes fell from 13 million gallons to zero as physical plant stopped almost all outdoor irrigation and researchers in greenhouses ceased automated watering, lowering greenhouse water usage by 6.7 million gallons.

But the greatest savings are in research functions, which consumed 31 percent of campus water, highest at the university. Research usage plummeted from more than 160 million gallons to about 110 million gallons.

UGA’s total 28 percent reduction far exceeds Gov. Sonny Perdue’s order last October that state-owned facilities cut water use by 10-15 percent, and also surpasses Clarke County’s 20 percent reduction goal.

Physical plant officials attribute the success mainly to aggressive implementation of water-saving measures throughout campus and widespread support for the “Every Drop Counts” public awareness campaign.

“The work (of the task force) created tremendous public awareness of the critical drought situation and served as an impetus for personal water conservation activities on the campus,” said Ralph Johnson, associate vice president for the physical plant. “The savings were achieved through the collective efforts of faculty, staff and students taking personal responsibility for campus water use as well as by equipment upgrades and retrofits accomplished by the physical plant.”

Johnson said that even before the task force report was finalized, physical plant moved several water-saving projects that had been on the “back burner” to the top of the priority list. One project involved changing the way tap water is used to cool refrigeration compressors and other equipment in research labs in the Miller Plant Sciences Building and the biological sciences building.

The change, which reconfigured the use of inexpensive but inefficient devices called “once-through” cooling units, led to an average savings of 1.25 million gallons of water a month in the plant sciences building alone.

Physical plant also replaced 1,500 toilets, 500 urinals and 2,000 faucet aerators in instructional building rest rooms with water-saving fixtures. Those retrofits are projected to save 30 million gallons of water annually.

And, 63 water meters were installed on cooling towers in campus buildings to enable physical plant to better measure water usage and detect and immediately repair control malfunctions—steps that potentially could avert the loss of hundreds of gallons of water per hour.

Other water-saving measures include replacing shower heads and toilets in residence halls with low-flow devices, repairing leaking pipes and fixtures in campus buildings and using captured rainwater and better mulching for high-priority planted areas.

The other major key to reduced water consumption, Johnson said, was the enthusiastic buy-in by faculty, staff and students for the “Every Drop Counts” campaign, which not only educated people about the necessity of saving water but also got them actively involved.

A Web site that provided daily water-saving tips and invited additional suggestions and ideas brought in more than 115 responses. A hotline for reporting water leaks and wasteful practices brought in so many complaints about toilets with overly sensitive automatic flushing mechanisms that physical plant deactivated the mechanisms on 150 commodes.

The campus was plastered with posters, stickers, buttons and magnets encouraging such action as turning off water while washing hands. The Residence Hall Association encouraged students to take shorter showers and turn off water while brushing teeth. The Ramsey Student Center provided hand sanitizer as an alternative to washing. The Georgia Center for Continuing Education stopped daily washing of linens, and the center’s restaurant stopped serving water except on request.

Even athletics got involved. Athletic programs cut their water use by 39 percent for the year. Several head coaches made public service announcements about water conservation and at a football game, a row of male fans spelled out “CONSERVE WATER” in red and black paint across their backs.

Johnson said that although drought conditions have eased a bit over the last year, water conservation is still essential.

“The key issue going forward is to continue making water efficiency improvements even during times of abundant water supply, which we hope will return soon,” he said. “In this way, UGA will be much better when—not if—the next drought occurs.”

By Larry B Dendy
University of Georgia

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Trees Fall Victim to Georgia's Drought

An increasing number of trees are falling victim to Georgia’s ongoing drought, according to the Georgia Forestry Commission. “The lack of rainfall is impacting shade trees and has also caused a decrease in timber production for the past growing season,” said James Johnson, GFC Staff Forester. “Both pine trees and hardwoods are dying, but species within the red oak group in urban areas are prompting the most attention. Homeowners should be taking preventive measures now,” he said, “because by the time obvious symptoms appear, it may be too late.”

Johnson said large trees require several hundred gallons of water each day to stay healthy, but any supplemental water applied will be beneficial. Trees should be watered thoroughly underneath their “drip line,” the area beneath the canopy where rainfall drips to the ground from the tree’s foliage and where “feeder roots” transport moisture to the trunk.

“Certain types of “gray water” can be used to sustain your trees,” explained Johnson. “Water from dish or clothes washing can be used without fear because they are diluted solutions that won’t harm the tree.”

Johnson said drought-stressed trees should not be fertilized because that can spur branch growth and put further strain on the tree’s limited water supply. One thorough watering each week is more effective than several light waterings, according to Johnson. “Trees suffering from the drought are also more susceptible to diseases and insects,” Johnson said, “so check them regularly to prevent damage.” Johnson recommended mulching to help hold moisture in the soil, which is especially beneficial for shallow-rooted species such as dogwood. As cooler weather approaches, trees will require less moisture and supplemental water isn’t necessary, according to Johnson.

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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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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Governor Recognizes Clarkesville for Excellence in Water Reduction

Governor Perdue today recognized the city of Clarkesville for its water reduction efforts. During his environmental address at the Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful luncheon, Governor Perdue recognized several municipalities, communities and industries who have shown a significant reduction in water use.

“I am proud to see so many Georgia communities and businesses cutting back on water usage during this unprecedented drought. Whether a large company, a small business or a family; Georgians stepped up in droves during this difficult time,” said Governor Sonny Perdue.

“Georgians are making conservation a part of their daily routine, being more conscientious than ever before about what they consume. We are growing, and while that growth brings challenges; we find ourselves moving in the right direction, focused collectively on making a difference for our state.”

In October of 2007, Governor Perdue directed the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) to achieve a 10 percent reduction in withdrawals for permit holders in the 61 North Georgia counties. Permit holders were asked to reduce water withdrawals by 10 percent compared to the permit holder’s water usage of December 2006 through end of March 2007.
The city of Clarkesville pumps water from the Soque River, a tributary to the Chattahoochee River in its upper reaches. In addition to improving its connections with neighboring water systems to improve system reliability, initiating efforts to improve its ability to withdraw water from the Soque, and improved leak detection, repair and metering efforts, the city has demonstrated remarkable success in getting its customers to reduce their water use. On average, Clarkesville managed to reduce its water use by 23% between November 2007 and July 2008 when compared to the same period a year ago.

Winter water use in Clarkesville during November 2007 through March 2008 dropped by an amazing 21% compared to the same period a year earlier meaning Clarkesville used, on average, 100,000 gallons per day less this past winter than they did the previous winter. This is 10% more than the average of the winter reductions achieved for the entire 55 county area.
Despite its small size and the influx of summer tourists, Clarkesville has managed to not only keep pace with summer reductions achieved by other communities in the Level IV drought response area, they have exceeded the average reductions across the 55 county area.

Governor Perdue also recognized the efforts of Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority partners which includes: Athens-Clarke, Oconee, Barrow and Jackson Counties. The Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority implemented extraordinary measures within the service areas of each county last year to reduce demands on the troubled reservoir to give it time to be refilled. Because of these efforts, the Bear Creek Reservoir is full once again, providing a supply of water adequate to meet the reduced demands of its customers. From November 2007 through July 2008, these systems reduced their water use by an average of 25% when compared to the same period a year earlier. While they were only required to reduce their usage by 10% during the months of November of 2007 through March of 2008, they actually achieved reductions of 22% when compared to the same period a year earlier. Summer reductions were equally impressive with water use between April and July of this year being reduced by 33% of what was used for the same months a year earlier.

22 Industrial Permitted Water Users in the 55 county drought area reduced their water usage by 33% or more from November 2007 through July 2008 compared to the same period a year earlier.
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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Governor Recognizes Water Savings at Covington General Mills Plant

Celebrating the partnership between industry and municipality during one of the worst droughts in Georgia’s history, Governor Sonny Perdue joined employees at the General Mills Covington facility for a tour and firsthand look at the water conservation efforts created by the plant’s state-of-the-art wastewater treatment facility.

“General Mills is playing a leading role in changing the way we do business in Georgia,” Governor Perdue said. “Through our Conserve Georgia initiative, we are asking our citizens and our businesses to make conservation a daily part of their routine. The savings here at General Mills not only represent less water usage, but also cost savings to the company. This company is the perfect example of how conserving can not only help our environment, but also its bottom line.”
The treatment facility came online in August 2006 and is able to restore about half of the plant’s process wastewater so it is clean enough to use for other purposes. The purified water is then reused for non-food contact purposes such as dust removal and cooling.

As a result, the treatment facility has trimmed the plant’s water consumption by an average of 46 percent – or about 5.3 million gallons per month, which is enough to supply about 1,000 homes.

Last March, The Georgia Association of Water Professionals gave General Mills the “2007 Water Conservation and Reuse Award” and the “2007 Industrial Pollution Control Award for an Indirect Wastewater Discharger”.

“This water treatment and recycling project is one more example of General Mills’ commitment to its role as a corporate citizen, to the community and to the environment,” said Mark Bible, plant manager of General Mills’ Covington facility.

In addition to helping preserve the environment, it’s estimated that the treatment facility saves General Mills about $840,000 per year in annual water utility costs and surcharges. While this type of treatment and reuse system is common in Europe where water costs are high, it is rare in the United States where water costs are typically low.

“This project is a huge step toward sustainable manufacturing,” said Jeff Hanratty, manager of safety and environmental for General Mills. “We hope to take some of the concepts we’ve learned at Covington and apply them to other facilities around the world.”
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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Altamaha Riverkeeper Receives Outstanding Grant

PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Altamaha Riverkeeper (ARK) is the recipient of a $48,000 matching grant from the Malcolm Fraser Foundation. ARK members from all over the state gave generously from June - August 2008 to support ARK's work in the watershed and met the Foundation's challenge by raising an initial $48,000. ARK is using the funding for its fieldwork, advocacy, outreach, and education.

"We are happy to support ARK's outstanding work in the watershed and applaud their efforts," said Jane Fraser, president of the Malcolm Fraser Foundation. "Unbridled development in low lying areas contributes to the many water problems we are seeing in Georgia; and the Altamaha Riverkeeper's work stands out as a shining example of what needs to be done statewide."

In August, ARK celebrated its ninth anniversary of working to protect and restore the habitat, water quality, and flow of the Altamaha from its headwaters in the Oconee, Ocmulgee, and Ohoopee Rivers to its terminus at the Atlantic Coast.

"Environmental problems are a growing challenge, and because of this, additional funds are needed," according to ARK's Executive Director Deborah Sheppard. "The rapid pace of destruction throughout the watershed is building awareness and concern about the short and long term future for our water resources."

"Development is encroaching on wetlands and marshes and illegal land disturbing activities are increasing. Government agencies are overwhelmed and failing to enforce laws to protect water quality. Support for protection work is growing as more citizens become involved and call on our organization for help," she says.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Fay Comes to Fayette County, Georgia

Fayette County remains under a Flash Flood Watch through this evening. Taking a look at the weather for the next few days, all we saw was rain and more rain. Be careful and keep an eye out if you live near water sources or if you're in areas prone to the dangers from flooding. According to the warning the worst of the flood potential is above the I-20 line, but we're already seeing some creeks spilling over their beds.
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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Gwinnett Mitigation Bank Protects Streams, Wetlands

The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners voted today to record a restrictive covenant on a stream restoration project site along Sweetwater Creek to ensure the property will remain in a restored or preserved state in perpetuity. A recorded restrictive covenant is required to establish the project as a mitigation banking site, thereby allowing stream or wetland restoration credits to be awarded by the US Army Corps of Engineers, deposited into the county’s mitigation bank and later sold by the county. Credits are awarded when the County restores, enhances or preserves streams and/or wetlands.

When public and private entities incur unavoidable losses to streams and wetlands during construction, they must offset that loss by completing restoration work themselves or purchasing restoration credits from a mitigation bank. It is expected that selling credits will help the county offset current project costs at the Sweetwater Creek site and also generate funds to conduct additional stream restoration projects elsewhere. The Gwinnett County Mitigation Bank, along with each credit-generating project, is authorized by the US Army Corps of Engineers with input from the US EPA, US Fish and Wildlife and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Once the restrictive covenant is recorded, the US Army Corps of Engineers will release the first 15 percent of the total mitigation credits for the Sweetwater Creek restoration project. This will be the first deposit of credits into the county’s bank. In total this project will generate approximately 10,200 stream mitigation credits over a seven-year period. At the current market rate for stream credits of approximately $70 to $100 per credit, the project is expected to generate revenues in the range of $700,000 to $1 million.

“These stream restoration projects are necessary to help restore the natural balance in our watersheds,” said Lynn Smarr, Acting Director of the County Water Resources Department. She added that Gwinnett County’s previous establishment of the mitigation bank, and current work with the US Army Corps of Engineers to obtain credits on the Sweetwater Creek project, will reduce the total cost of implementing this and future stream and wetlands restoration projects.
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EPA Grants Help Clean Up Gwinnett Stream

The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners today voted to accept a United States Environmental Protection Agency Section 319 grant to help stabilize and clean up an impacted tributary to the North Fork of Peachtree Creek in south Gwinnett. The amount of the grant is $600,000 and will require local matching funds in the amount of $400,000 for a total project budget of $1 million.

The project is located on County-owned property along a tributary of the North Fork of Peachtree Creek west of Jimmy Carter Boulevard and just south of Interstate 85. This stream currently does not meet the State of Georgia’s water quality standards and is considered one of the more impacted streams in the County.

Gwinnett County is required under various permits to evaluate and take action to improve the water quality in such streams identified as being in non-compliance. The county has spent the last several years identifying and prioritizing these impacted stream segments throughout most watersheds in the county and has now prepared plans for corrective action. This comprehensive watershed-wide planning approach allows for the location of projects strategically where they will provide the greatest benefit to the watershed overall. The major goals of the project on North Fork Peachtree Creek, and of the program overall, are to stabilize eroding streambanks and improve water quality and aquatic habitat.

“Gwinnett County is committed to protecting the environment and improving the quality of water in our local streams through implementation of projects like this one,” said Lynn Smarr, Acting Director of the County’s Department of Water Resources.
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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Gwinnett County, Partners Celebrate Dam Safety

Fourteen dams built to keep agricultural land in Gwinnett County from flooding are being upgraded to meet modern safety standards. The County originally partnered with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and several local agencies, including the Upper Ocmulgee River Resource Conservation and Development Council, the Gwinnett County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission to design and build the dams between 1965 and 1980. But a rapidly growing population and changing land-use patterns now require new design criteria, primarily to expand spillway capacity.

Gwinnett began a capital improvement program in 1999 to upgrade all 14 dams. Construction is finished at seven dams and upgrade designs are being completed for another three. Two already met the new criteria and the remaining two are considered low-hazard but will be upgraded due to potential future development nearby.

According to Stormwater Division Director Steve Leo, three of the seven dams that have been upgraded were accomplished through the NRCS Dam Upgrade Cost Share Program, which provides 65 percent funding from the federal government. The three structures, No. Y-14, Y-15 and Y-17, are located within the Yellow River drainage basin.

A ceremony to recognize the improvements made to the three structures was held on Aug. 13 at Collins Hill Park in the Lawrenceville area.
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Thursday, July 31, 2008

GEMA Distributes Mitigation Funds to the City of Decatur

The Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA), on behalf of Governor Sonny Perdue, recently reimbursed the the City of Decatur $1,106,168.05 for the costs associated with the acquisition and demolition of four properties subject to flooding.

"These improvements will pay major dividends in terms of reducing flooding and destruction in this area," said GEMA Director Charley English.

The purpose of Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program is to provide funds to state agencies and local governments for projects that reduce or eliminate the long-term risk to human life and property from the effects of natural hazards by breaking the repetitive cycle of destruction and reconstruction.

For additional information on mitigation programs please contact GEMA toll-free at 1-800-TRY-GEMA or visit the GEMA Web site at

Monday, July 28, 2008

West Georgia Excels in Water Conservation

Water conservation is still a hot topic as government agencies grapple on how to conserve water during the dry summer months. The 10-month state mandate on water conservation continues and so does the University of West Georgia’s highly successful water conservation program.

UWG has exceeded the state’s mandate for reduction of water consumption despite record enrollment numbers and a continuing drought. Since Gov. Sonny Perdue gave the executive order for state institutions to reduce water consumption by 10 to 15 percent last October, UWG has complied by 39 percent for the month of November and has maintained an average monthly reduction of 23 percent in water consumption.

The university’s water conservation plan began years before the mandate and that is one reason for the university’s success, said Robert Watkins, director of facilities.

“The university has been proactive in conserving resources with a goal of sustainability on this campus and in the community,” said Watkins. “We have succeeded on many levels and look forward to the new academic year with more successes under our belts.”

In response to the governor’s mandate, UWG implemented additional conservation initiatives that include postponing landscaping projects, extensive training of UWG staff in water conservation, a change in dish washing and food disposal in food services and discontinuing washing state fleet vehicles. UWG crews also increased surveys of university water fountains, faucets and other plumbing for leaks and repaired the equipment as needed.

In 2005, the university’s energy and resource conservation program intensified after an Ad Hoc Energy Conservation Committee formed in response to a request from UWG President Beheruz N. Sethna. For several months the group met to assess ways to reduce natural gas, electric and water usage throughout the campus.

"I am very proud of our water management,” said Sethna. “From the entire spectrum of finding aquifers through the exceptional work of Dr. Randy Kath and our other geosciences faculty twenty years ago to the present day conservation efforts headed by Facilities and Grounds and then the implementation by faculty, staff and students of the University of West Georgia. Water conservation is a way of life at this campus.”

As a result of the committee’s findings, West Georgia began a progressive conservation program that has saved thousands of dollars in energy costs and hundreds of thousands of gallons in water resources.

In addition to the successful conservation efforts on campus, West Georgia’s conservation efforts are being realized off campus. The university has partnered with the city of Carrollton and using one of several artesian wells operating on campus, a water usage agreement allows the city to take 15,000 gallons of water daily, an amount that totals 300,000 gallons a month. Dan Lewis, coordinator of Business and Finance development, said it is a service gladly given to university neighbors.

“This is a way West Georgia helps its community,” said Lewis, who posts a UWG Energy Report each month on the university website. “The wells are a tremendous resource and thanks to those professors in our geosciences department that helped to locate these resources, we are able to utilize them on and off campus.”

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Work Continues at Iraq Water Pumping Station

Water is a critical resource in the desert, and the water level at Camp Victory here has decreased significantly over the past few months, the result of an unseasonably dry winter that saw very little rain.

The water levels in Al Faw Lake and Slayer Lake dropped below the preferable lower limit in the spring. But with 926th Engineer Brigade assisting in repairs to water pumps at the Jaddriyah Pump Station, the water levels in the two lakes have stabilized.

The repaired station has helped Iraqis in three ways, the brigade's deputy commander noted. "It has created jobs, rebuilt the existing infrastructure, and helped improve irrigation," Army Col. Philip Jolly said.

The water levels on Camp Victory fall under the purview of the Department of Public Works and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but since the Jaddriyah Pump Station falls within the Multinational Division Baghdad operational environment, 4th Infantry Division assigned repair responsibility to 926th Engineer Brigade, Jolly explained.

The Jaddriyah Pump Station also supplies water to the Radwaniyah area in southern Baghdad. The 4th Infantry Division and 926th Engineer Brigade are repairing it to improve the quality of life for the Iraqi people who live in the areas it feeds. With additional pumps working, more water can be supplied to the Iraqis living in the Radwaniyah district.

"They have already seen improvements, as more water is flowing through the water treatment units in the area," said Army Maj. James Daffron.

As the water flow increases in the lakes, excess water will flow to the canals for the Iraqi people in the surrounding area. About 1,000 local farms will get the much-needed water, which will provide a boost to the local agriculture industry and additional food and employment opportunities to the residents of Radwaniyah.

Before the 926th started working with operators at the pump station, only two of 10 pumps were working. The station is designed to work with six large pumps in operation at one time, pumping 16,000 gallons per minute. The station has eight large pumps and two small pumps, and the two large pumps that were working prior to the brigade's involvement were not always working at full capacity. Due to faulty and outdated equipment, workers often needed to shut down the station for repairs.

Now, seven out of eight large pumps are in operation, and work is in progress to improve the overall efficiency of the station. Also, a 28-week training course will teach Iraqi citizens how to operate and maintain the plant and improve the efficiency of operations.

"This would give them usable skills that would keep them employed and away from insurgent militias," Daffron said

Author Army Spc. Anthony Hutchins serves with Multinational Division Baghdad in the 926th Engineer Brigade Public Affairs Office.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Drought Conditions Intensify Across Georgia

Exceptional drought has returned to northeast Georgia, and continuing dry weather has spread drought conditions to southeast Georgia.

Although scattered thunderstorms brought some relief to drought-parched Georgia during July, allowing plants to show some recovery, the relief was localized. The rains were not enough to halt dropping stream flows across most of the state.

Many streams are at or near record low flows for late July.

Exceptional drought conditions now are occurring north and east of a line from Wilkes to Oglethorpe to Clarke to Jackson to Hall to Lumpkin to Union counties, inclusive. This includes 16 counties in northeast Georgia.

Exceptional is the worse drought category. During exceptional drought, many of the drought indicators are at levels seen only once in 50 to 100 years.

Extreme drought conditions remain in 13 counties of north Georgia: Fannin, Gilmer, Dawson, Forsyth, Gwinnett, Barrow, Walton, Oconee, Morgan, Greene, Taliaferro, Wilkes and Lincoln.
Severe drought conditions exist north and west of a line from Echols to Lanier to Berrien to Irwin to Ben Hill to Wilcox to Pulaski to Bleckley to Twiggs to Wilkinson to Washington to Jefferson to Burke counties, inclusive. This includes 96 of the 159 counties in Georgia.

In southeast Georgia, moderate drought conditions are occurring in 16 counties: Clinch, Ware, Atkinson, Coffee, Bacon, Jeff Davis, Telfair, Wheeler, Montgomery, Dodge, Laurens, Treutlen, Johnson, Emanuel, Jenkins and Screven. The 12 counties experiencing mild drought conditions are Charlton, Brantley, Pierce, Appling, Wayne, Toombs, Tattnall, Long, Evans, Candler, Bulloch and Effingham.

The six counties of coastal Georgia are classified as being abnormally dry.

Across northeast and southwest Georgia, almost all streams are at or near record low flows for late July.

Many streams are below the 7Q10 level of flow. The seven refers to the seven-day stream flow, the “Q” is quantity and the 10 refers to 10 years. Thus, the current 7Q10 level is the lowest consecutive seven-day stream flow expected to occur once in 10 years.

When stream flows fall below the 7Q10 value, there are concerns about environmental quality and a stream’s health. It is very common that stream withdrawal and discharge permits are based on 7Q10.

Streams currently at record low flows for July 24 in northeast Georgia are the Chattooga and Tullulah rivers near Clayton, the Nottely River near Blairsville, the Chattahoochee River near Cornelia and the Chestatee River near Dahlonega.

The Chattahoochee and Chestatee rivers are the main sources of water for Lake Lanier. Lanier, Hartwell and Clarks Hill reservoirs remain near or below record low levels for late July.

The Broad River near Bell and the Little River near Washington are below their 7Q10 values. The Middle Oconee River in Athens has been below its 7Q10 value for the past 6 days. However, rainfall of three to four inches in the upper reaches of the Middle Oconee’s watershed has sent a surge of water down the river. This surge should past Athens during the weekend. Without rain, the Middle Oconee at Athens is expected to return to flows levels below its 7Q10 over the weekend.

In southwest Georgia, Ichawaynochaway Creek at Milford is below its 7Q10 value while the Withlacoochee River near Quitman is at a record low flow for July 24. In southeast Georgia, the Little Satilla River near Offerman is also at a record low flow for July 24.

Area lakes are becoming dangerous as water levels drop. Unmarked obstructions are now nearer the surface and can cause boat damage. Additionally, unmarked drop-offs into deep water are appearing along the shoreline, increasing danger for casual waders and swimmers.
All boaters are encouraged to exercise extreme caution as water levels drop. Boating in the main lake channels between channel buoys decreases the danger but does not eliminate it. All boaters are encouraged to wear life jackets at all times when in an open hull boat or when above deck.
Farm ponds, especially ones not fed by springs, are showing the lack of rain. Many ponds didn’t receive adequate recharge during the winter and entered the summer low. Beef and dairy farmers are now rotating cattle from pasture to pasture not only to protect pastures but also manage their cattle drinking water supply.

Through October, Georgia’s best chance for widespread drought relief will be tropical disturbances. The heart of tropical storm season is still a few weeks away.

Visit for more drought information, for automated weather data across Georgia, for daily rainfall from CoCoRaHS, for USGS data and for water conservation information.

(Author David Emory Stooksbury is the state climatologist and a professor in engineering and atmospheric sciences at the University of Georgia.)
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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Southern Company and Environmental Partners Award Wetland Restoration Grants Through Five Star Program

PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Southern Company, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, National Association of Counties and Wildlife Habitat Council announced today that 10 new wetland, riparian and coastal conservation grants have been awarded in the Southeast through the Five Star Restoration Program.

This year, Southern Company provided $246,000 in grants and, combined with partner matching funds, a total of nearly $532,000 will benefit projects in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi. Since 2006, Southern Company has contributed $621,000 through 33 grants, resulting in an on-the-ground conservation impact of $1.89 million.

"EPA's Five Star Restoration Grant Program will help promote conservation and environmental stewardship in these communities," said Jimmy Palmer, EPA Regional Administrator. "Community-based projects, such as these, improve environmental awareness among local residents and create lasting relationships for protecting and sustaining wetlands, streams and coasts."

The Five Star Restoration Program is a national initiative providing financial and technical support to wetland, riparian and coastal habitat restoration projects. It brings together citizen groups, corporations, students, landowners, youth conservations corps, and local, state and federal government agencies to build diverse partnerships and foster local natural resource stewardship through education, outreach and training activities. In 2006, Southern Company pledged $1.2 million over five years to fund community-based, wetland and streamside restoration across its four-state service territory. Additionally, Southern Company collaborates with the program partners to select the projects each year and distribute funds to grantees.

"As Five Star Restoration's lead corporate sponsor for the Southern region, Southern Company has committed five years of matching funds for projects in our region," said Chris Hobson, senior vice president of research and environmental affairs for Southern Company. "Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems in the world, providing habitat for reptiles, fish, waterfowl, mammals, plants and more. Grassroots efforts through this program will make a significant contribution to our environmental landscape and underscore the importance of healthy wetlands environments in the communities we serve."

The following grants have been awarded in Georgia for 2008:

-- Conasauga River Alliance - to treat 500 linear feet of collapsing streambank in order to restore riparian integrity to a 3,800-foot segment of Swamp Creek, a tributary to the Conasauga River. The site will be used for an in-field, community-based workshop to showcase actual installation of currently underutilized, ecologically-preferable streambank stabilization techniques to area developers, designers and landowners. Additional project partners include Whitfield County, Georgia Environmental Protection Division, Limestone Valley RC&D Council, D2 Land and Water Resources and private landowners.

-- DeKalb County Parks Department - to restore and protect more than one-half acre of wetlands at the historic Evans Mill site, including 200 linear feet of riparian buffer, along Pole Bridge Creek. Junk automobile parts and other debris will be removed from the project area along with invasive plant species and restored with native plants. The site will serve as a rest/picnic area at the terminus of a nearby multi-use trail and five local schools will be involved. Project partners include DeKalb County Parks and Greenspace - Office and Department of Watershed Management, Salem Middle School, University of Georgia Extension 4H Program and University of Georgia Alumni Association - DeKalb Chapter.

-- Georgia Wildlife Federation - to restore 3.5 acres of wetlands along the Alcovy River at East End Road in Covington. Invasive exotic flora will be removed and replanted with desirable native wetland species. This will be used as a demonstration site to educate the community about the economic and ecological values of healthy riverine ecosystems. Additional project partners include The Conservation Fund, Georgia Future Farmers of America-Future Career and Community Leaders of America, Georgia River Fishing, Newton County Keep Covington-Newton Beautiful, Oxford College of Emory University, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Georgia Department of Environmental Protection Division, Adopt-A-Stream and Rivers Alive, Georgia Exotic Pest Plant Council, Newton County Extension and Master Gardeners and Air Conditioning Specialists.

-- Chattahoochee RiverWatch, Inc. - to restore 2.2 miles of riparian forest buffer along Lindsey Creek from Macon Road to Bull Creek, a major tributary of the Chattahoochee River watershed. The project will engage the local community in stewardship of their water resources and help produce an education video about the impacts of storm water and non-point source pollution on water quality in the watershed. Additional project partners include Columbus Consolidated Government, Columbus State University Environmental Science Program and Georgia Forestry Commission.

-- Elachee Nature Science Center - to restore 15 acres of riparian forests of the Chicopee Woods by treating exotic invasive plants and restoring the area with diverse native plants. This site will help train volunteers and teach the public and local elementary students about the threat of exotic invasive plants in Georgia and promote local conservation efforts. Additional project partners include Chicopee Woods Area Park Commission, Chicopee Woods Weed Management Area, Georgia Exotic Pest Plant Council and City of Gainesville.

-- Upper Oconee Watershed Network - to restore 800 feet of riparian buffer and streamside wetlands in the Trail Creek Watershed. This effort will be used to teach citizens about the relationship between residential land management and riparian habitat condition, stream health, downstream water quality, and the species that depend on these ecologically valuable corridors. This project will provide local residents with tools to initiate their own backyard wetland habitat improvements and the project will conduct a series of workshops to educate and engage local citizens in watershed health and maintenance. Additional project partners include Oconee River Greenway Commission, Chicopee-Dudley Neighborhood Association, University of Georgia, Athens-Clarke County Departments of Leisure Services, Public Works and Central Services and Athens Garden Club.

The goal of EPA's Wetlands program is to motivate and inspire the Nation to value, protect and restore the ecological integrity of its wetlands and aquatic ecosystems. The Wetlands Program accomplishes this through co-leadership of the Clean Water Act's wetlands regulatory program, and by fostering effective wetlands management in strategic partnerships with states, tribes, local governments and other key partners. EPA's vision is for America to have abundant and healthy wetlands and aquatic ecosystems that sustain biologically diverse plant and animal life, improve water quality, protect communities from flooding and provide recreational opportunities.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Governor Announces GEFA Loans and Grants

Governor Sonny Perdue announced today the approval of three Georgia Fund commitments totaling $5,410,842, one Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) commitment of $2,933,874, and one water reuse grant of $300,000. The Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA) Executive Committee approved the loans and grant to help finance water, sewer and solid waste infrastructure projects for Lamar County, the Middle Georgia Regional Solid Waste Authority, and the cities of Springfield, Woodstock and Hinesville.

“Infrastructure improvements increase the quality of life for Georgia citizens, and they help cities and counties create jobs and promote economic development,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “I’m pleased these investments are being made in water, sewer, and solid waste infrastructure.”

“GEFA’s programs are a tangible commitment by Governor Perdue and the General Assembly to assist local governments across the state with their efforts to provide clean water, sewer, and solid waste improvements,” said GEFA Executive Director Chris Clark. “In addition to the public’s health and safety, these projects are critical to a community’s ability to prosper economically.”

Clark expressed appreciation to Governor Perdue and the Georgia General Assembly for their support. He credited Governor Perdue’s commitment to helping Georgia cities and counties finance infrastructure development as one of the main contributors to GEFA’s success. Governor Perdue recommended and the General Assembly approved Amended FY2008 and FY2009 budget appropriations of $120 million for water infrastructure and reservoir development.

“The projects that we agreed to finance today illustrate how GEFA helps communities of all sizes, in all areas of the state,” said J.C. Warren, chairman of the GEFA board of directors and a member of the Screven County board of commissioners. “From the smallest of communities to the largest, GEFA is investing in communities that are willing to invest in themselves.”

GEFA helps communities prepare for economic growth and development through the provision of low interest loans and grants. The Georgia Fund is a state funded loan program administered by GEFA for water, wastewater and solid waste infrastructure projects. The loan program has maximum flexibility and accessibility, providing fast loan approvals. The Georgia Fund finances loans to local governments for projects such as water and sewer lines, treatment plants, pumping stations, wells, water storage tanks and water meters. Low interest loans from this program range from $20,000 to $50 million. The DWSRF is a federal loan program administered by GEFA for drinking water infrastructure projects.

Details of the loans and grants approved today are below:

Lamar County

Lamar County was approved for a DWSRF loan of $2,433,874 to help finance water system infrastructure improvements. The project will add new customers to the water system by eliminating approximately 176 private wells. Lamar County will pay zero percent interest on the 20-year loan along with a $500,000 subsidy. GEFA is financing the entire estimated cost of the $2,933,874 project.

City of Springfield

The city of Springfield was approved for a Georgia Fund loan of $1,380,842 to help finance improvements to the water system infrastructure. The city will pay 4.27 percent interest on the 20-year loan. The total project cost is $2,523,484 with the Effingham County Industrial Development Authority providing the remaining funds of $1,142,642.

City of Woodstock

The city of Woodstock was approved for a Georgia Fund loan of $3,500,000 to help finance repairs and replacement of sewer system infrastructure. The city will pay 4.27 percent interest on the 20-year loan. The total cost is $3,500,000 with GEFA providing the entire amount.

City of Hinesville

The city of Hinesville was approved for a water reuse grant of $300,000 to help finance construction of reuse water distribution lines to provide irrigation at county facilities, the Cherokee Rose Country Club and Fort Stewart.

Middle Georgia Regional Solid Waste Authority

The Middle Georgia Regional Solid Waste Authority was approved for a Georgia Fund loan of $530,000 to help finance the construction of two new cells at the authority’s landfill. The authority will pay 4.27 percent interest on the 20-year loan. The total cost is $530,000 with GEFA providing the entire amount.

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Georgia Front Page

Monday, July 14, 2008

Water Seminar to Focus on Business’ Role

While a number of smaller lakes and reservoirs have recovered from last year’s searing draught, Lake Lanier, a main water supply for much of metro Atlanta, remains low and state environmental leaders say conservation will be as important as ever as we head through what promises to be a long, dry summer.

To highlight what business can do, should be doing, and is doing, to conserve water , Georgia State University’s Center for Ethics and Corporate Responsibility will host a day-long seminar featuring top environmental experts, executives from some of the area’s most environmentally-conscious companies and local government leaders, including Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin.

Water: A Natural Resource in Peril will be presented from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 17 at the Georgia Aquarium, 225 Baker Street.

Linda DiSantis, an executive-in-residence at the J. Mack Robinson College of Business’ ethics center and the seminar’s lead organizer, says more and more companies are thinking about their environmental impact and use of natural resources.

Beyond companies that use water in production, like beverage bottlers who depend on a continuous supply of clean water, she said companies are thinking about how their use of resources is viewed, and how to make their operations sustainable.

“Companies need to behave responsibly because water is a limited resource and if they are viewed as not being responsible, they could suffer the consequence of a backlash,” she said. “It’s not something you do just because it’s a nice thing to do. It’s an important strategy issue.”

Presenters at the seminar will include keynote speaker David Orr, the Paul Sears distinguished professor of environmental studies and politics at Oberlin College, and Jason Morrison, director of the Pacific Institute’s Globalization Program and a project coordinator for the U.N. Global Compact CEO Water Mandate.

Their discussions will give attendees a “big picture” view of the world’s water resources, said Steven Olson, the director of the Center for Ethics and Corporate Responsibility.

“A lot of people in the room – it’ll be a real eye-opener for them,” Olson said.

Greg Koch, the Coca-Cola Co.’s director of Global Water Stewardship; Jeff Carrier, the sustainability manager for the Carpet and Rug Institute; and Gary Black, president of the Georgia Agribusiness Council will address best practices and water usage by the private sector during a panel discussion.

Olson says the carpet industry tackled its water use years ago, and can be viewed as an example of how companies can work together within an industry to solve environmental challenges.

“They’ve had to really get their hands around this,” Olson said. “Many of these sustainability issues can’t be addressed at the firm level. They have to be addressed at the industry level.”

Atlanta’s Mayor Franklin, who has dubbed herself the “sewer mayor,” is expected to discuss where business stands as the city grapples with water supply and infrastructure issues. The city is in the midst of a massive $1 billion sewer rebuilding project and the sewer plan is just one part of the $3.8 billion Clean Water Atlanta initiative to improve drinking water and reduce pollution.

Gail Cowie, a senior planning and policy advisor from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, will also give an overview of the statewide water plan, adopted by lawmakers and signed into law in February, and explain what will be expected of business under the plan.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Community Water Fluoridation Now Reaches Nearly 70 percent of U.S.

Nearly 70 percent of U.S. residents who get water from community water systems now receive fluoridated water, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The proportion of the U.S. population receiving fluoridated water, about 184 million people, increased from 65.8 percent in 1992 to 69.2 percent in 2006, said the study in this week's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports.

"Community water fluoridation is an equitable, cost-effective, and cost-saving method of delivering fluoride to most people," said Dr. William Maas, director of CDC's Division of Oral Health. "We've seen some marked improvements; however, there are still too many states that
have not met the national goal. The national goal is that 75 percent of U.S. residents who are on community water systems be receiving fluoridated water by 2010."

Fluoride, a naturally occurring compound in the environment, can reduce or prevent tooth decay. Adding or maintaining tiny levels of fluoride in drinking water is a safe and effective public health measure to prevent and control tooth decay (dental caries). The second half of the 20th century saw a major decline in the prevalence and severity of dental caries, attributed in part to the increasing use of fluoride. Based upon studies and a systematic review, the U.S. Task Force on Community Preventive Services reported that fluoridation resulted in a median 29.1
percent relative decrease in tooth decay.

The report, "Populations Receiving Optimally Fluoridated Public Drinking Water- United States 1992-2006," provides the most recent information on the status of fluoridated water by state. The report says the percentage of people served by community water systems with optimal levels (which are defined by the state and vary based on such things as the climate)
of fluoridated water ranged from 8.4 percent in Hawaii to 100 percent in the District of Columbia. Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia have met or exceeded national objectives, while 25 states need improvements. Three states (Colorado, Delaware and Nebraska) that previously reached the national objective dropped below the target by 2006.

During 1998-2006, CDC developed the Water Fluoridation Reporting System (WFRS), a Web-based method to support management of state fluoridation programs and to collect these data. The state has administrative oversight on water fluoridation and CDC relies on state dental or drinking water programs to provide fluoridation data, including populations served, fluoridation status, fluoride concentration, and fluoride source for individual community water systems.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Crane Slides into Shallows of Lake Lanier

An underwater pipeline construction contractor hired by the Gwinnett Department of Water Resources lost a tracked crane into the shallow water of Lake Lanier yesterday. Crews for the contractor, Oscar Renda, Inc., were walking the crane from the shore of Lake Lanier onto a floating barge when an anchor cable came loose and the barge shifted allowing the crane (that was partially on the barge and partially on the shore) to slide into the shallow water of the inlet used for the construction entrance to the lake.

“Thank goodness no one was injured,” said Lynn Smarr, Acting Water Resources Director. “These things happen with large equipment sometimes. Fortunately, the construction delay should only be temporary.” The contractor reported the incident to the National Response Center because of the oil sheen caused by the loss of some diesel fuel from the crane fuel tank into the water. The contractor blocked the small inlet to prevent boats and other traffic from getting close to the site. The contractor quickly installed oil booms and absorbent material to contain the small amount of leaked diesel within the small area of about 60 feet by 60 feet. The fuel will be cleaned up as quickly as practical, and the crane will be removed from the water. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was also notified of the incident, according to Smarr.

“We do not believe the small amount of diesel will be a threat to our water supply, to the lake or to others downstream,” said Tyler Richards, Deputy Director for Water Resources Operations. “When we were notified of the accident, we took the extra precaution of making sure that all raw water is taken from our Lanier intake, which is over a mile from the construction site, until the situation is stabilized and operations are back to normal at the construction site.”

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Joint Masters Degree in Water Resources Management Launched

The Georgia Water Resource Management Institute (GWRI) and the University of Pretoria Water Institute (UPWI) have launched of a Master of Science in Water Resources Management degree. The new joint degree program is being offered through the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

“Sustainable water resources development and management are key to economic development and societal change in Africa,” said Professor Aris Georgakakos of Georgia Tech’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and director of GWRI. “This is because water resources are the basis of agricultural activities which, in Africa, employ more than 80 percent of the labor force and generate more than 50 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). Moreover, water resources support hydropower development, which powers industrial growth.”

Understanding water-related issues and disciplines has a vital impact on environmental and socio-economic change, according to the Georgakakos. “The joint degree program was created with these needs in mind,” he noted. “This educational and applied research program combines the expertise and strengths of the two water institutes with the goal of creating qualified specialists who will ably serve African governments, industries and academia.”

“Currently the world is experiencing a water crisis,” said Professor Eugene Cloete, head of the University of Pretoria’s Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology and leader of the Southern Education and Research Alliance (SERA) Water Task Team. “The collection, dissemination and exchange of water-related information and know-how is therefore a matter of priority to improve the sharing of knowledge and building human capacity concerning water-related issues.”

The UPWI currently has 45 students enrolled at the master’s and PhD levels, including students from Kenya, Eritrea, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Nigeria, Canada, Germany and Mozambique.

GWRI was established in 1964 and is part of a network of water resources institutes operating in each U.S. state. Georgia Tech and GWRI have worldwide research and education involvement including North and South America, Europe, China, Singapore, India and Africa. In particular, GWRI’s involvement in Africa spans more than 20 years and has focused on developing prototype information and decision support systems for water, energy, and environmental resources planning and management in the Nile and Congo River basins. This work is carried out through collaborative relationships with the governments of Burundi, Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.