Fri., July 6, 2012 12:00pm (EDT)

Water Councils' Future Unsure
By Orlando Montoya
Updated: 2 years ago

SAVANNAH, Ga.  —  
Most of Georgia's regional water councils haven't met this year and are waiting on state funding to continue operating. (photo by Flagstaff fotos)
Most of Georgia's regional water councils haven't met this year and are waiting on state funding to continue operating. (photo by Flagstaff fotos)
Most of Georgia's regional water councils haven't met this year and are waiting on state funding to continue operating.

The 11 councils wrote the state's first-ever water plans last year but now are struggling without authority or mission.

The councils' terms expired earlier this year but the coastal council, the Coosa-North Georgia Council and the Lower Flint-Ochlockonee Council met anyway.

Lawmakers created the councils to plan for future water needs but didn't give them permitting powers.

State Environmental Protection Division Director Jud Turner says, he now wants to know what bare minimum budget needs the councils have until state lawmakers can address their mission and funding.

"We sent them a letter to let them know that their appointments can hold over and they can continue until we sort of work through the funding issue related to getting them a sustainable fund source," Turner says.

He says, funding requests might include money to monitor plan implementation.

The councils will have to update the plans with new data in 2016.

He says, even though the water councils fulfilled their 2008 legislative mandate to create the state's first-ever regional water plans, they still have a vital role to play in the state's water future.

"In these regions, it's been really great to see folks at the local level come together, understand the resource challenges we have in the state and stay together and stay meeting," he says.

Only members of the coastal council, the Coosa-North Georgia Council and the Lower Flint-Ochlockonee Council have met this year.

They did so on a voluntary basis.