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.)
Community News You Can Use

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.

Fayette Front Page
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.