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Sunday, September 11, 2011 - 8:00pm

Coastal Water Planners Support Limits

A coastal water plan set to be approved this week aims to keep cities from running out of drinkable water.

A big concern on the coast is saltwater intrusion.

If coastal cities pump too much water from the ground, saltwater can leach in.

So, for the past five years, a nine county region has been under a permitting process to limit pumping.

The Savannah area has been limited to 2006 levels.

Water planner Brian Baker of the state Environmental Protection Division says, a regional water plan up for a vote on Wednesday includes the water pumping limits.

"The coastal regional water plan that was developed by the coastal council does reference the coastal permitting plan and supports the goals of the coastal permitting plan," Baker says.

Cities have to use more surface water and promote conservation under the existing permitting plan.

"We know that we are going to be limited in the amount of groundwater that we can use in the future," Baker says. "And one of the first steps is to reduce the demand."

The new regional water plan is one of 11 being voted on this month state-wide.

It encourages but doesn't mandate conservation.