The Director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) hasannounced thatconsideration of new applicationsfor agricultural water withdrawal permits in a 24-county area ofsouthwest Georgia will be suspended.

The suspension takeseffectimmediately, butdoesnotapply toapplicationsEPDhas already received.

The suspension affects both agricultural groundwater and surface water withdrawalsin the lower Flintand Chattahoochee River basinsin a region known asSub-area 4, which includesall or partof thefollowing 17counties: Baker, Calhoun, Colquitt, Crisp, Decatur, Dooly, Dougherty, Early, Grady, Lee,Miller, Mitchell, Seminole, Sumter, Terrell, Turner andWorth.

In addition, agricultural surface waterwithdrawal applicationsfor partsof Calhoun, Chattahoochee, Clay, Early, Marion, Randolph, Schley,Stewart, Sumter, Terrell and Webster countiesin areasoutside of Sub-area 4will notbe considered. “The water resourcesaffected by the suspension are a significantsource of water for irrigation,” saidEPDDirector Jud Turner.

“A continued increase in withdrawalsfrom these resourcesmay ultimatelylead to unacceptable impacts to existing usersor compromise the sustainable capacitiesof theseresources.”

The suspension appliesto new applicationsfor groundwater withdrawal from the Floridan aquifer, aswell as applicationsfor surface water pumping from streamsand riversin the Spring Creek,Ichawaynochaway Creek, Kinchafoonee-Muckalee Creek, and Lower Flintriver sub-basinsin the FlintRiver Basin.

The suspension also appliesto applicationsto modify existing permits to increasewithdrawalsor increase the number of irrigated acres.

“Thissuspension will give ustime to update themathematicalmodelsused to assesswater resourcesin the area and to evaluate the impactof increased withdrawals,” said EPDDirector Turner. “Thesuspension will be re-evaluated annually beginning in November 2013.”

The suspension doesnotapply to permitapplicationsfrom other areasof the lower FlintandChattahoochee River basins.

For more information contactthe EPDAgricultural Permitting Office inTifton at229-391-2400.