The Governor’s Water Stewardship Act was Governor Sonny Perdue’s initiative to encourage water conservation, reduce wasteful loss and incentivize innovation in both increasing water supply and lessening demand, with the intent of developing a “culture of conservation” in Georgia. The Act was introduced simultaneously in the two chambers of the Georgia General Assembly as House Bill 1094 and Senate Bill 370, and moved quickly to passage; it was signed into law by Governor Perdue and became effective June 1, 2010. The following summarizes the key 10 points of the Act:
- To build a culture of conservation throughout the state by state-wide water campaigns and public outreach programs;
- To ensure coordination among various agencies (EPD, Parks Recreation and DNR Historic Sites Division, DNR Sustainability Division, GEFA, Department of Community Affairs, Georgia Forestry Commission, Department of Community Health, Department of Agriculture and Soil & Water Conservation Commission.)
- The Act mandates that by January 1, 2012, public water systems serving at least 10,000 individuals will have conducted a water loss audit according to the International Water Association (IWA) methodology, and by January 1, 2013, all other public water systems that serve at least 3300 individuals shall also have conducted water loss audits. The purpose of utilizing the IWA methodology is to provide for consistency and comparability.
- Allows for local outdoor watering restrictions more stringent than state restrictions during both non-drought periods and state declared periods of droughts.
- Groundwater agricultural permit: The Act categorizes Agricultural permits for groundwater and surface water withdrawals to define “active”, “inactive”, and “unused” permits and outlines procedures for EPD to withdraw those permits.
- Surface water agricultural permit: (see point 5 above)
- For all new residential and commercial multi-unit projects, sub-metering so that each unit can receive consumption reports and be required to help incentivize residents to practice conservation measures. The Act protects utilities who take responsibility for sub metering and allow them to charge fees for this services.
- Efficient water fixtures will be required in all new residential and commercial construction statewide. For existing units, incentives to retrofit will be in provided.
- Water efficient cooling towers will be required in new industrial construction. For existing units, incentives to retrofit will be in provided.
- The Act created a Joint House and Senate Committee on water supply that will look at the additional contingency supply options (reservoirs) and extends the voluntary agriculture monitoring program to include surface water withdrawals.