With commodity prices setting records farmers in Georgia are expected to plant a record number of crops. The number of requests for state issued well permits has also tripled over last year in the middle of a two year drought.
There are 1.5 million acres under irrigation in Georgia. Most of that land is in South Georgia where farmers get their water from wells fed by the Floridan aquifer.
Doug Wilson is the Executive Director of the Georgia Water Planning and Policy Center in Albany. He says farmers ended the last growing season with a 20 inch rain deficit and the aquifer in need of recharging.
“Some of these counties, 60 plus percent of the tax base is agriculture related. So, we really don’t have an option here. If you took the water away from the farmers in these southwest Georgia counties you’d just make the counties wards of the state.”
Wilson says winter rains typically recharge the aquifer, but so far that has not happened.