ATLANTA — The state Senate is expected to vote on the widely-debated statewide water plan Friday.
The plan, crafted by the Georgia Water Council, was submitted to the Legislature on its opening day Monday. The Senate Natural Resources Committee passed it Tuesday and it went to the House’s Natural Resources Committee for consideration.
“You’re not going to find anything that will make everybody happy,” state Sen. Jack Hill (R-Reidsville) said. “It’s on a fast track and it’s gone through a lot of input over the months. This is not the last word to be written on water policy just because we pass this.”
The plan — as submitted to the state lawmakers — sets up 11 regional councils based on river basins.
“We want to make sure Effingham County is represented on the water councils, if this bill moves forward as it is,” state Rep. Jon Burns said. “We want to make sure that folks who know the concerns of the Savannah River basin and the Ogeechee River basin are players.”
Under the proposal, the state would assess over three years how much water is available and what the expected demand for the next 20 years is.
“Now it’s up to us to either adopt it or come up with one of our own,” state Rep. Buddy Carter said. “I think it’s a good plan. I think it’s one that’s workable. One thing you need to keep in mind that it is a start. That doesn’t mean it won’t have to be tweaked. There are parts we are going to have to work on. But it’s a good start and it was something that we needed.”
The state water plan is separate from state drought relief efforts, though the two initiatives have plenty of common ground. Carter said there will be a push to build more reservoirs.
“There’s no question of that,” he said. “I think we’ll see some more planning for the next time we do have a drought like this. We can’t control Mother Nature, but we can prepare for it.”
The introduction of the water plan Monday was overshadowed by the House overriding a dozen vetoes by Gov. Sonny Perdue.
“We got off to a roaring start,” Carter said. “It is going to be an interesting session.”
At the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s eggs and issues breakfast early Tuesday morning, Carter sat next to a state senator and discussed the House’s veto overrides with him.
“I asked him, ‘Are ya’ll gonna consider it?’ He said, ‘You know, I looked up consider in the dictionary and it said, “to think about it,” so we’re going to think about it,’” Carter said.
“If you see smoke rising from the Legislature, don’t worry, Sherman’s not back,” Carter added, noting the Union general’s 1864 campaign and the resulting destruction of the city during the Civil War.