Governor Perdue Announces Water and Land Conservation Plans
|Monday, October 20, 2003
Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774
Recommends New EPD Director
Atlanta - Governor Sonny Perdue announced today two initiatives to help preserve and protect Georgia's water and land resources and announced his recommendation of Dr. Carol Couch as Director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) while speaking at the Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful Luncheon in Duluth, GA.
"Georgia is a state richly blessed with natural resources, and we have an obligation to conserve and protect those natural resources for generations to come," said Governor Sonny Perdue. "Critical to protecting the environment is developing comprehensive water and land conservation plans."
Governor to Recommend Comprehensive Water Plan to the Legislature
Governor Perdue announced his intentions to push for a comprehensive water plan in the 2004 legislative session. He started that process today by signing an Executive Order to create the Georgia Water Resources Council (Council). The Council will ensure coordination, cooperation and communication among state agencies and their water-related programs and activities. The Water Resources Council will submit recommendations to the Governor before the start of the legislative session. Governor Perdue will review the recommendations and work with the General Assembly next year to pass legislation addressing Georgia's water planning needs.
"A statewide water plan is crucial in order to properly manage our water resources and to bolster our ongoing water conservation programs," said Governor Perdue. "Representative Bob Hanner understands how crucial water planning is to our state. I thank him for his leadership on this issue." Representative Hanner is Chairman of the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee.
The Council will include the heads of the Department of Natural Resources, the Environmental Protection Division, the Soil and Water Conservation Commission, the Department of Agriculture, and the Chairmen of the House and Senate Committees on Natural Resources and the Environment.
"The Governor and I feel that it is imperative to establish a comprehensive water plan, and I look forward to working with him in this effort," said Representative Hanner.
Advisory Panel to Develop Land Conservation Plan
Governor Perdue today also proposed a statewide Georgia Land Conservation Partnership. The partnership will be a collaboration between the private sector, community greenspace programs, and state government's existing areas for recreation, historic resources, and wildlife habitats. The Governor plans to establish by Executive Order an Advisory Panel on Land Conservation in Georgia that will develop a land conservation plan, identify priorities for preservation, and recommend changes in the law that will further enhance preservation.
"The first and foremost step for the state to take right now is to develop a statewide conservation plan that will lay a solid foundation for setting Georgia's priorities in land preservation," said Governor Perdue.
The plan will be developed by a broad array of individuals representing the business community, local governments, conservation organizations, land trusts, foundations, and university and other experts. The plan will lay the foundation for setting priorities in land preservation throughout the state.
Dr. Carol Couch to be Governor Perdue's Recommendation for EPD Director
The Board of Natural Resources will be presented Governor Perdue's recommendation of Dr. Carol A. Couch as Director of the EPD on Wednesday, October 29, 2003.
"Dr. Couch has an extensive knowledge of environmental issues, and she has a strong passion for protecting the environment," said Governor Perdue. "I am confident that she will be a strong champion for Georgia's environment."
Couch currently serves as Chief of the Ecological Synthesis Program for the National Water Quality Assessment Program, where she oversees the work of a team of engineers, hydrologists, chemists and biologists in the design, conduct, and reporting of water resource assessments. She holds a Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of Georgia, a Masters of Science in Biology from the University of South Carolina, and a Bachelor of Science in Health Systems Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
The Georgia Environmental Protection Division, a division of the Department of Natural Resources, helps provide Georgia's citizens with clean air, clean water, healthy lives, and productive land by assuring compliance with environmental laws and by assisting others to do their part for a healthier environment.
A text of the Governor's executive order creating the Georgia Water Resources Council and a complete biography of Dr. Couch are provided below:
Text of Executive Order
WHEREAS: Because Georgia's water resources are precious and vital to the support of the state's economy, the protection of public health, the welfare of our natural systems, and the enhancement of the quality of life for all citizens, it is critical for the state to ensure their sustainable management; and
WHEREAS: Numerous federal, state and local agencies implement water-resources-related laws, ordinances, and programs that create a strong foundation for Georgia's water policy; and
WHEREAS: Increases in population, economic development, and irrigated agriculture, as well as periodic drought conditions, pose significant challenges for the effective implementation of water-resources-related laws, ordinances, and programs; and
WHEREAS: Increased understanding of the intricate relationship between water quantity and quality and surface and ground water systems emphasizes the need for comprehensive, integrated water resources management across multiple levels of government; and
WHEREAS: Water resources management challenges and the need for comprehensive, integrated water resources management can be met by the implementation of an effective state comprehensive water resources management planning program; and
WHEREAS: The Board of Natural Resources, on March 26, 2003, approved the Georgia Drought Management Plan, as developed by a cross section of citizens and resource managers from across the state, to recommend and require measures that will reduce water consumption by citizens, governments, industries, and commercial entities in Georgia; and
WHEREAS: The Drought Management Plan mandates pre-drought measures to conserve water and post-drought response measures appropriate to minimize the effects of drought; and
WHEREAS: It is important for the State to lead by example and demonstrate its commitment to sound water management and conservation;
NOW, THEREFORE, BY VIRTUE OF THE POWER VESTED IN ME AS GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF GEORGIA, IT IS HEREBY
ORDERED: That there is created the Georgia Water Resources Council to ensure coordination, cooperation and communication among state agencies and their water-related programs and activities.
IT IS FURTHER
ORDERED: That the Georgia Water Resources Council shall be comprised of the commissioners or directors of the following state agencies as voting members:
Department of Natural Resources;
Environmental Protection Division of the Department of Natural Resources;
Soil and Water Conservation Commission;
Department of Community Affairs;
Department of Human Resources;
Department of Agriculture;
Georgia Forestry Commission; and
Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority.
IT IS FURTHER
ORDERED: That the chairpersons of the Senate Natural Resources and the Environment Committee and the House Committee on Natural Resources and Environment may serve ex officio in an advisory capacity to the Georgia Water Resources Council to provide a legislative perspective in discussions and to build institutional knowledge of the nuances of the state comprehensive water resources management planning process in the General Assembly.
IT IS FURTHER
ORDERED: That the Director of the Environmental Protection Division shall serve as chairperson of the Georgia Water Resources Council. The Environmental Protection Division shall provide administrative support for the Georgia Water Resources Council.
IT IS FURTHER
ORDERED: That the Georgia Water Resources Council shall set forth its recommendations for the contents and scope of the state comprehensive water resources management plan. The Georgia Water Resources Council shall submit such document to the Governor and General Assembly before the 2004 regular session, in anticipation of the General Assembly passing water planning legislation.
IT IS FURTHER
ORDERED: That the Georgia Water Resources Council shall draw upon the expertise and shall seek the counsel and assistance of other private and public entities with expertise in water management as appropriate.
IT IS FURTHER
ORDERED: That all state departments, agencies, boards, bureaus, commissions, authorities, councils, and corporations shall implement the initiatives set forth in the Drought Management Plan as they relate to their mission and to the extent that it is practical to do so.
ORDERED: That the Department of Natural Resources shall implement the provisions of the Drought Management Plan as soon as practicable.
IT IS FURTHER
ORDERED: That all state departments, agencies, boards, bureaus, commissions, authorities, councils, and corporations shall develop their own internal water conservation programs with mechanisms and procedures to reduce their water usage.
IT IS FURTHER
ORDERED: That all state departments, agencies, boards, bureaus, commissions, authorities, councils, and corporations with water-related regulatory or programmatic functions shall work together in a spirit of cooperation so as to avoid duplication of effort and conflicting initiatives and directives.
This 20th day of October, 2003.
(Signed: Sonny Perdue)
Biography - Dr. Carol Couch
Carol A. Couch - Couch currently serves as Chief of the Ecological Synthesis Program for the National Water Quality Assessment Program, where she oversees the work of a team of engineers, hydrologists, chemists and biologists in the design, conduct and reporting of water resource assessments. Prior to this position, Ms. Couch was the Southeastern Regional Biologist for the USGS Water Resources Division, where she served as lead scientist and advisor for biological components of cooperative water-quality and hydrologic investigations. Additionally, she has served as Director of Planning for the Western Colorado Health Systems Agency and a planner with the Santa Clara County Health Systems Agency. Ms. Couch holds a Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of Georgia, a Masters of Science in Biology from the University of South Carolina, and a Bachelor of Science in Health Systems Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.