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Water council names go forth
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Rincon City Council gave its thumbs-up to a slate of candidates to be nominated for the regional water council.

A local ad hoc water and sewer committee put forth Effingham Board of Education member Lamar Allen, county engineer Steve Liotta, Rincon Mayor Ken Lee and Effingham Industrial Development Authority member Dennis Webb as the names to be discussed when the 25-member panel is seated later this year.

Effingham County commissioners and the other municipalities, in addition to the IDA and the school board, were asked to approve the resolution to show their support.

“The idea was to show a unified front,” IDA Chief Executive Officer John Henry said. “There are no guarantees on who will be represented and why. Our goal was to unify the nominations. It’s a way to show the state we are presenting a unified front. No other community that we are aware of has done that.”

In addition, county commissioner Reggie Loper, who is chairman of the Association of the County Commissioners of Georgia’s natural resources committee, has been nominated by that group.

The 25 members, with three alternates, for the regional water planning group will be chosen by Gov. Sonny Perdue, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Speaker of the House Glenn Richardson. The governor will get 13 selections to each of the 10 regional councils. Cagle and Richardson will get six each. There also will be three alternates chosen.

Effingham is in the Coastal Georgia region, which includes Bryan, Bulloch, Camden, Chatham, Glynn, Liberty, Long and McIntosh. The regional water councils were mandated by the water planning bill passed by the Legislature early in the 2008 session.

“Effingham County has a very unique interest in this because outside of Chatham, we are the only county in the red zone,” Henry said.

The red zone, a line of demarcation drawn by the state Environmental Protection Division that follows Highway 119, caps groundwater withdrawal from the upper Floridan aquifer.

“Look at all we’ve done to get water at I-16,” IDA member David Carter said of the deal to provide water for the IDA’s project there. “And all that is because we are in the red zone.”

Rincon council members approved the resolutions with no discussion, but the IDA voted 6-1 in favor. Charles Hinely opposed the move, though he says he isn’t against the idea.

“I just don’t have enough information,” he said. “I believe in the council. But I don’t have enough information on it. I’d like to know more.”

The water planning council will not have the power to enact new laws or regulations but will recommend policies for the state Environmental Protection Division.

“It’s going to be a lot of work in the next two years,” Webb said.