The Georgia General Assembly adopted a progressive act in 1972 establishing the permitting program for groundwater withdrawals (wells). The impetus of this act was the concern expressed over the industrial use of groundwater (primary pulp and paper) in coastal Georgia and the recognition of the need to properly regulate this water.

The act specifies that any non-agricultural use of water over 100,000 gpd (monthly average in any given month) must be permitted by the Environmental Protection Division (EPD). The act recognized existing uses at the time and provided for a permit for those users. The act did not include surface water withdrawals. The act authorizes the Department of Natural (DNR) to issue rules for groundwater withdrawals and for EPD to enforce the permits.

This act was later expanded to include surface water withdrawals and agricultural withdrawals. It forms the basis of Georgia’s groundwater management programs.

The original act language is similar but not identical to that in the current code (as of 2012), OCGA 12-5-90 et seq.