The Georgia Farm Bureau Board of Directors voted unanimously on Jan. 15 to support the state water plan approved by the Georgia Water Council on Jan. 8 and urged the General Assembly to approve it.
“Agriculture is the largest industry in the state, and water is essential to its existence,” Georgia Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall says. “We appreciate the open process the Water Council used in developing this plan, and we urge the General Assembly to approve it. Georgia Farm Bureau members actively attended all of the public meetings the Water Council held across the state to represent agriculture's opinions on each stage of the proposed plan. Changes made in the plan through its various stages reflected that our concerns were heard, and the responsive attitude of the Council and Environmental Protection Division has been greatly appreciated by the members of Georgia Farm Bureau.”
The Georgia Farm Bureau Board of Directors cited several key reasons for their vote of support for the Water Council's plan.
Georgia Farm Bureau supports regulated riparian water rights and farmers having timely access to water. The plan acknowledges this concern.
Georgia Farm Bureau has testified to the necessity of augmenting current water supplies through all reasonable means, including building more reservoirs, aquifer storage and recovery, where appropriate, and desalination. The plan recognizes the need for these methods of increasing our water supplies.
Early in the comment process, Georgia Farm Bureau expressed concern that an earlier version of the water plan vested an inordinate amount of authority in the office of the EPD director. This concern was not rooted in any distrust of any past, present or future EPD director, however the organization was concerned that any appointed individual should have such centralized authority over an asset as vital as water. The final plan includes ways to decentralize some of the authority originally vested in the EPD Director by calling for the EPD to consult with other departments and providing for the governor, lieutenant governor and house speaker to appoint the regional water councils, which will represent each of the 11 water planning regions outlined in the plan.