State officials approved a plan Wednesday to help communities expand their water supplies. The plan’s critics say Georgia could boost its water supply more cheaply with conservation.
The plan from the Water Supply Task Force would focus on linking communities’ water supplies, expanding reservoirs and drilling wells.
Gov. Nathan Deal has pledged $300 million in loans and funds for such water projects.
Task force chairman Kevin Clark says the projects would be locally-driven.
“Water supply, it’s a local service," he said after the meeting. "It’s a local issue. So this is a plan to help finance water supply projects but the local governments lead the way. So the state is looking to assist the locals in providing that service. ”
Environmentalists say conservation measures such as installing low-flow toilets and fixing leaks are more effective and cost much less.
Joe Cooke is with the Upper Coosa Riverkeeper in Rome.
“As a fiscal conservative, I think the Governor should be ashamed to put his name on this program," Cook said after the meeting. "The charge was to align state funds with the most cost-effective water supply projects and the task force has excluded water conservation and efficiency projects from the funding. And those are our most cost-effective projects.”
Task force officials, however, say the state already funds conservation projects through other programs.
Others weighed in through comments via email, which the task force published. One commenter said, "There is no attempt in the report to address the uncontrolled growth of the metro area, which is the root cause of many of our regional problems."
The plan now goes to the Governor for approval. He created the task force to find ways to boost Georgia’s water supply as it battles other states for control of Lake Lanier.