Metro Atlanta and communities along the middle Chattahoochee share a common destiny. We are connected by limited natural resources, and we find ourselves today at a promising moment. A chapter of the long history of water litigation is now closed, and we have an opportunity to collaborate with all of the Apalachicola Chattahoochee Flint River Basins stakeholders to share this precious water supply.
Mindful of these shared resources, the 15-county Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District has developed a comprehensive approach to water resources planning that addresses watershed protection, long-term wastewater management and water supply and conservation.
The watershed plan includes a suite of ordinances designed to reduce storm water pollution, and all jurisdictions in the district have adopted these ordinances. The wastewater plans call for the return of highly-treated wastewater to the river or lake from which it was withdrawn. Several wastewater treatment plants in the region are among the most technologically advanced in the country.
More than a decade ago, the district adopted an aggressive water conservation program, and we have worked in the ensuing years to steadily improve and strengthen it. Metro Atlanta's water conservation plan is one of the most comprehensive in the nation, and it is paying off. Between 2000 and 2010, the region's population increased by 1 million people, yet total water use decreased.
The water conservation plan contains 19 conservation measures, including conservation pricing, plumbing retrofits, and leak detection and repair programs. For example, a total of 38 jurisdictions offer toilet rebates that have replaced more than 75,000 old, inefficient toilets since the program began in 2008.
The Metro Water District includes 15 counties, more than 90 municipalities, and 108 water and wastewater utilities. The District includes more than 4 million of your fellow Georgians. We know of no other region in the country in which so many governments and water systems plan as comprehensively.
Participating local governments and utilities are required to implement the provisions of the plans, and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division enforces the plans through its audit process. Together we are moving the region toward best-in-class water resources management.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is carrying out its charge from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit to develop a plan that balances water supply with other uses such as hydropower and flood control. As it does, the stakeholders all along the river basin have the opportunity to work together to develop plans that meet everyone's reasonable water needs while protecting our natural resources.
In metro Atlanta, we want to work with our neighbors to develop fair and equitable water-sharing plans. We want to partner with our fellow Georgians to establish a workable and sustainable water plan for our entire state. We remain committed to good water stewardship as we do so.
Boyd Austin, mayor of Dallas, Ga., is chairman of the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District; firstname.lastname@example.org