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Tuesday, July 31, 2012 - 11:40am

State Cuts Off Water Permits

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division is suspending new water permits for farmers in 24 southwest Georgia counties.The decision impacts water from the ground, creeks, rivers and streams.

As the drought intensifies, the state’s water supplies are under increasing pressure. Georgia has 1.5 million acres under irrigation, much of it in the lower Flint and Chattahoochee River basins.

The suspension took effect Tuesday. Any permits received after that will not be considered for the foreseeable future. EPD Director Jud Turner says they need time to reevaluate the impacts of irrigation on water availability.

“Now is the time to first start with not adding any more on the system and then the next step is a bigger step which is really going back statutorily and building in some further protections and looking at management tools for the entire system.”

Turner says he expects lawmakers to consider drought protection when they convene in January. Some of the counties in the affected area include Dougherty, Miller, Colquitt and Sumter counties.