Friday, May 1, 2009

Georgia Water Coalition Applauds Governor, Legislators for Protecting Well Water

The Georgia Water Coalition (GWC) applauded Governor Perdue and state legislators today for passing and signing into law House Bill 552 (HB 552), a bill that extends the existing moratorium on injecting chemically treated water into the Floridan aquifer through 2014. The General Assembly had previously passed a five year moratorium twice on these types of injections to protect drinking water. The current moratorium would have sunset in 2009.

Ogeechee-Canoochee Riverkeeper Chandra Brown said, “As a coastal resident and mother, I am going to feel better about the security and health of our main water supply, the Floridan Aquifer, thanks to the work of the entire coastal delegation.”

During the legislative session, the GWC aired television commercials in Middle Georgia informing citizens about proposals to pump chemically treated sewage and river water into our groundwater. This practice, also known as aquifer storage and recovery, can contaminate vital drinking water sources for many Georgians.

Satilla Riverkeeper Gordon Rogers said, “Coastal Georgia is downstream from everyone in Georgia, and too often our rivers and streams suffer the consequences. We have been blessed with one of the finest sources for drinking water in the entire world, and I certainly appreciate that our legislature and our Governor have extended this necessary protection for another five years.”

Recently, injecting chemically treated sewage was proposed as an alternative to dispose of chemically treated sewage in Liberty County. Among the concerns are contamination by pharmaceuticals and personal care products, which are actively present in all treated sewage discharges. Earlier this year, the GWC released poll results from a survey conducted by The Schapiro Group showing that ensuring enough clean water continues to top Georgians’ environmental concerns. Of those surveyed, 73 percent supported extending a ban on injecting chemically treated water into aquifers.

“These issues are too often decided without the public knowing about them or getting involved” said April Ingle, Executive Director of the Georgia River Network. “The Georgia Water Coalition is changing that.”

The GWC is comprised of 174 groups, ranging from hunting and fishing groups, to religious organizations, environmental groups, and businesses, all working together to aggressively ensure enough clean water for current and future generations. The coalition is committed to continuing to raise the profile of clean water challenges and solutions available to our state’s leaders through an earned media campaign.

In response to HB 552, four local governments on the coast – the City of Savannah, Chatham County, City of Tybee, and Bryan County - passed resolutions supporting the ban on the practice because of their concerns about the damage that may be caused by injecting lower quality water into their high quality aquifer. The resolutions state that if injections were allowed, their drinking water supply could suffer negative consequences for coastal Georgia's economy and environment.

The National Research Council reported that a proposal to inject chemically treated water in South Florida aquifers posed significant risks to groundwater, including potentially increasing heavy metal concentrations, such as mercury. This report also found that the chemically treated surface water could contain bacteria and pathogens and contaminate groundwater. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers found levels of arsenic that exceeded safe drinking water levels in areas using the practice in South Florida.

“The Georgia Water Coalition is proud to vigorously defend clean water in Georgia and making sure citizens know about the importance of safeguarding water quality in Georgia’s communities,” said Dave Kyler, Executive Director of the Center for a Sustainable Coast, a member of the Georgia Water Coalition.

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