More than 160 Georgia Water Coalition partners and volunteers from across the state gathered at the Capitol on Wednesday for Capitol Conservation Day. Thank you to all of our volunteers for taking time to meet with their legislators and advocate for clean water across Georgia.
Today is the close of the 5th week of the General Assembly’s 2017 session. The legislators will return next Tuesday, February 21 (Day 21). We are half-way home; 20 days remain in the 40-day session. The 2017 legislative session will end on Thursday, March 30. See the calendar here.
GWC Priority Issues
Ensuring Safe, Secure Disposal and Storage of Coal Ash Wastes
Representative Jeff Jones and many co-sponsors introduced two bills this week to address the huge volumes of coal ash waste stored at Georgia Power plants across the state. House Bill 387 requires utilities to test the wastewater released from contaminated coal ash ponds into rivers and streams across the state. House Bill 388 ensures the safe storage of this waste in any Georgia municipal solid waste landfills that receive it.
It’s vital that coal ash waste be stored in a safe manner so that it does not leak into our rivers, lakes and streams or contaminate subsurface drinking water sources on nearby properties. The Georgia Water Coalition supports these bills. Please ask your representative to support these steps to protect our surface and groundwater.
We've pulled together a map of coal ash waste storage sites and the legislative districts in which they are located:
Addressing Uncertainty Surrounding State Water Buffers
Unfortunately, while the Coalition has been working with supportive legislators re-establish comprehensive buffers on state waters, other interests have been promoting a delay tactic— study committees. SR 152 has been introduced to create a study committee to look at stream buffers, rather than fix the law. There have been many studies on this issue, and the science is clear: buffers protect water quality and preserve private property values.
Legislators need to fix the law to protect private property from flooding, mud and pollution. The longer we delay, the more pollution enters our streams and more property damage can occur.
Other Issues the GWC is Tracking
Senate Bill 116 – Passing on the costs of dirty stormwater
SB 116 by Senator Frank Ginn is an attack on local stormwater utilities programs, sometimes called “rain taxes,” by creating an exemption for so-called “water-neutral sites.” Unfortunately, no developed property can truly be water neutral. The creation of impermeable surfaces like concrete or asphalt increase the volume of and speed at which stormwater flows into local government’s stormwater management systems.
Stormwater management is a growing problem in Georgia, in large part due to more frequent severe weather brought by climate change and the increase in paved surfaces caused by growing populations. Eliminating these stormwater fees paid to local governments that manage stormwater systems will lead to more flooding, mud flows, washouts, culverts uprooted, bridges failing, and trees falling. SB 116 will cost tax payers much more money in the long run.
House Bill 271 – Defining the jurisdictional area of the Shoreline Protection Act
HB 271 is a bill that would change the way that the jurisdictional area is determined on beach front property on Georgia’s coast. While we agree that the current method is problematic for both DNR officials and property owners, the current language leaves some beach-front property susceptible to erosion. We are working with the bill sponsor to increase the bill’s setback off of the ordinary high water mark from 25 feet to 150 feet.
Trust Fund Honesty (HR 158) - Call to Support!
Legislators have introduced legislation for a constitutional amendment to ensure that money collected for fee-based programs (like the scrap tire fee and recycling program) is actually dedicated to the intended programs, instead of being funneled to the state’s general budget to be spent for whatever purposes the General Assembly sees fit.
With HR 158, the legislature has taken an important first step towards ensuring fees are used for their stated purpose. The Georgians for Trust Fund Honesty will hold a rally on Wednesday, March 1, 2017 at Liberty Place at the Georgia State Capitol. Please call your Rep and ask them to support this important resolution, and mark your calendar to join other Georgians to promote Trust Fund Honesty on March 1.
Georgia Water Coalition's Spring Partner Meeting and Georgia River Network's Weekend for Rivers • April 27-29, 2017 • Little Ocmulgee State Park near McCrae, GA
The GWC will hold its 2017 spring partner meeting in conjunction with the Georgia River Network's Weekend for Rivers Event. There will be multiple training opportunities for our partners during this multi-day event. Come enjoy two days of learning and sharing with fellow water advocates. Engage in the river revelry and share your river revelations! Here is the agenda:
Thursday, April 27th
6PM - 10PM ... Group supper and socializing
Friday, April 28th
9AM – 4PM ... GWC Partner meeting
5PM – 9PM ... GRN’s Weekend for Rivers Happy Hour, Low Country Boil Dinner, and River Awards Ceremony
Saturday, April 29th
8:00AM – 3PM ... GRN’s Weekend for Rivers conference
3:30PM – 7PM ... Guided paddle trip on the Little Ocmulgee River
Learn more and register now at http://www.gawater.org/join-us/calendar
We have 15 rooms in the Lodge and 25 campsites blocked for Thursday 4/27/17 thru Saturday 4/29/17. Please use the 04748 when making your reservations at Little Ocmulgee State Park Reservations.