Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Senate votes in favor of Pearson’s Bill to increase Georgia’s Water Supply

The Georgia State Senate today voted to pass Sen. Chip Pearson’s (R-Dawsonville) legislation to facilitate the expansion of existing reservoirs in Georgia. Senate Bill 380 is a key component of Pearson’s efforts this year to ensure Georgia has access to an adequate water supply.

“Georgia will remain the economic engine of the South only if we ensure there is enough water to support our state’s future population growth. The passage of this bill is an important step to proactively secure water for our state,” said Pearson. “This measure simply allows the state environmental authority to loan money to local governments to expand existing reservoirs when funding is available.”

The legislation establishes a clear process in Georgia law for the Water Supply Division (WSD) of the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority to loan funds to local governments to expand existing reservoirs. Under SB 380, the WSD has the power to make loans and grants to a local government to pay all or any part of the cost of expanding and increasing the capacity of existing reservoirs. The bill also outlines what criteria must be used when considering requests for funding assistance, including the effect of recurring droughts on the region, the interconnectivity of the reservoir with surrounding local governments, how to facilitate public-private partnerships and any unique regional conditions.

The bill stipulates that the WSD can make the loans or grants when funding is available. Beginning this year, all funding requests must be submitted by July 1, and any awards will be issued no later than October 1 of that year.

Last week, the Senate also passed Pearson’s bill to allow for the development of public-private partnerships to build and expand reservoirs. Pearson has noted that in such difficult economic times, it’s imperative to incentivize the private sector to help expand Georgia’s water supply. Under Senate Bill 321, the WSD and local governments can enter into a water use agreement with the owner of any private reservoir.

Sen. Chip Pearson serves as chairman of the Economic Development Committee. He represents the 51st Senate District, which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Pickens, and Union counties and portions of Forsyth and White counties. He may be reached at 404.656.9221 or via e-mail at
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