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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