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Coastal Georgia's Freshwater Resources Not Significantly Impacted by Saltwater Intrusion

Wednesday, August 3, 2005  Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774


State to Ease Moratorium on Uniform Water Withdrawal Limits

ATLANTA – Governor Sonny Perdue announced today that the scientific results of a seven year study of groundwater use in Georgia 's coastal region show that saltwater has not significantly impacted the region's freshwater aquifer.  Due to the results of the study, the state will now develop a plan to ease the current moratorium on uniform water withdrawal limits.

“This is positive news for the citizens of coastal Georgia and for the region's capacity to create jobs and support economic development,” said Governor Sonny Perdue.  “The scientific findings of this study indicate that continuing the current moratorium is unnecessary and additional water resources can be made available to the coastal region.”

The study, called the Sound Science Initiative, began in 1997 due to concern that pumping of groundwater had caused saltwater to seep into the Floridan aquifer in some areas.  The results indicate very slow rates and expansion of saltwater into the aquifer near Savannah and that it will be several hundred years before saltwater under Hilton Head reaches wells in Georgia .  In Brunswick , saltwater intrusion is localized and can be contained with the proper management of additional pumping.

“Completion of this study is a major step in helping us develop a plan for the sustainable management of water resources along the Georgia coast,” said Carol Couch, director of Georgia 's Environmental Protection Division (EPD).  “Saltwater management plans must be developed with stakeholder input, particularly for the Savannah and Brunswick areas.”

EPD limited new water withdrawals in a 24-county region until the cause and extent of the saltwater contamination could be determined.  The study indicates the need to be prudent and conservative with groundwater resources.  EPD is developing a water withdrawal strategy that will guide water permitting after the end of this calendar year.  EPD will be seeking stakeholder involvement to determine appropriate management practices, such as water conservation and reuse.

A draft water withdrawal strategy will be available for the public to review on October 7, 2005.  EPD has begun a series of public meetings to explain the scientific results, so that the public can be prepared to provide comments on the draft strategy.  Dates, times and locations for the meetings are as follows:

  • Thursday, August 4, 2005 6:30-9:30 pm:  Camden County Health Department, 600 North Charles Gillman Jr. Ave. , Kingsland , GA 31548
  • Monday, August 8, 2005, 6:30-9:30 pm:  Bulloch Center For Agriculture, 151 Langston Chapel Rd. , Statesboro , GA 30458
  • Tuesday, August 9, 2005, 6:30-9:30 pm:  Mighty Eighty Air Force Museum, 175 Bourne Ave., Pooler, GA  31322
  • Thursday, August 11, 2005, 6:30-9:30 pm:  Coastal GA Community College, 3700 Altama Ave. , Brunswick , GA 31520