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Georgia Water Coalition Legislative Update 
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GWC Legislative Tracker
Legislative Update Number 5 (February 10, 2017)

Today is the close of the 4th week of the General Assembly’s 2017 session. The legislators will return on Valentine’s Day next Tuesday, February 14 ( Day 17). The calendar for the full legislative session has been set. 24 days remain in the 40-day session. The 2017 legislative session will end on Thursday, March 30. See the calendar here.
 
GWC Priority Issues
 
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. This week SR 152 was introduced to create a study committee to look at stream buffers, rather than fix the law. Please reach out to your Representatives and ask them to support legislation that fixes the confusing buffer law.  
 
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.

Ensuring Safe, Secure Disposal and Storage of Coal Ash Wastes
GWC continues its work to address the huge volumes of coal ash waste stored at Georgia Power plants across the state. We are supporting legislation that [1] requires utilities to test the wastewater released from contaminated coal ash ponds into rivers and streams across the state and [2] 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.
 
We've pulled together some resources to help out:

Spilled coal ash (left) versus regular river sediment (right) 

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 any property that is “designed to achieve control of water runoff from a 25 year, 24 hour storm event.” Given the well-known fact that “100 year” storm events occur quite often in GA, the 25 year event is a common rain “event.” 
 
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.
 
Announcements
 
Capitol Conservation Day – Register Now!
Capitol Conservation Day is next week! Join the Georgia Water Coalition on Wednesday, February 15 for a day at the Capitol to meet with YOUR legislators to talk about important water issues in Georgia. 
 
GWC Contact: Kate McGregor Mosely, kate@gipl.org
Coastal Bus Contact: Kelly Patton, kelly@onehundredmiles.org


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.

Save the Date! March 1 
Georgians for Trust Fund Honesty Rally.

Join concerned citizens from across the state at Liberty Plaza adjacent to the state capital as we ask Georgia legislators to restore honesty in government! 

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Georgia Water Coalition
c/o Dana Skelton
126 South Milledge Avenue, Suite E3
(706) 549-4508
Athens, GA 30605
www.georgiawater.org

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Georgia Water Coalition · c/o Dana Skelton Georgia River Network 126 South Milledge Avenue, Suite E3 · Athens, GA 30605 · USA

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