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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