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Water Permitting Plan Approved for Coastal Georgia

Thursday, June 15, 2006  Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774

Water Permitting Plan Approved for Coastal Georgia

SAVANNAH, Ga. – Governor Sonny Perdue announced today a plan to meet the water needs of the state’s growing coastal region, while still protecting the groundwater resources of coastal Georgia and South Carolina.

“Water is crucial to maintaining a growing economy in this vital region of Georgia,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “This plan ensures a sustainable supply of fresh water for coastal Georgians, as well as for our neighbors in South Carolina.”

The Coastal Georgia Water and Wastewater Permitting Plan for Managing Saltwater Intrusion was developed by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD). It is based on the scientific findings of a multi-year study of groundwater use in the 24-county coastal area. The study addressed the concern that pumping of groundwater in the region has allowed saltwater to seep into parts of the Floridan aquifer, the principal source of drinking water.

“The plan is the result of years of careful study to help us better understand the water resources of the region,” said EPD Director Carol A. Couch. “By working through the water management actions outlined in the plan, we are confident that the groundwater supply will be protected for future generations.”

The permitting plan focuses on water resource issues in four geographical areas:

  • Chatham and southern Effingham Counties
  • Bryan and Liberty Counties
  • Glynn County
  • Northern Effingham and the other 19 counties

In Chatham and southern Effingham Counties, where rapid population growth is contributing to increased demand for water, water withdrawals from the upper Floridan aquifer will be restricted to the total amount currently being withdrawn. Water withdrawals will be reduced by at least five million gallons a day by the end of 2008.

New scientific data shows past reduction in water pumping in the Savannah and Hilton Head areas has raised the pressure in the aquifer, which helps control saltwater intrusion. Within these restrictions and reductions, individual communities may receive small increases in permitted use of upper Floridan aquifer water. However, these communities must demonstrate connection to and use of Savannah River water, and the capacity for handling increased wastewater.

In Bryan and Liberty Counties, data shows that withdrawals from the aquifer do not have a significant influence on saltwater intrusion. EPD will allow Bryan and Liberty municipalities to resume use of the upper Floridan aquifer, however total additional water use will be limited to five million gallons per day through 2008. Water use in these counties will be monitored closely to ensure there is no significant impact on the aquifer. Beyond 2008, availability of additional upper Floridan aquifer water will depend on monitoring results.

In Glynn County, no more upper Floridan aquifer wells will be allowed in a small area underlying Brunswick due to an existing saltwater plume in the aquifer.

In the remaining 19 counties (Charlton, Camden, Ware, Brantley, Pierce, Bacon, Wayne, Appling, McIntosh, Long, Tattnall, Toombs, Evans, Bulloch, Candler, Emanuel, Jenkins, Burke and Screven) applications for additional upper Floridan water will be considered for all uses. However, in all 24 counties, permit holders will need to meet new requirements for water conservation and reuse.

A copy of the permitting plan is available on EPD’s coastal water study Web site at

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