Thursday, June 25, 2009

Regional Water Planning - Really or Rhetoric

Just read where a prominent engineering firm will be working with 3 Georgia regional water planning councils to do future water planning. The article says: "the plans will improve the quality of life for citizens by providing a proactive, sustainable strategy for water resource management with the growing state’s long-term needs at the forefront." (The operative words have been made bold so you don't miss them.)

Water resource assessments and population projections up to 40 years into the future will be used to develop realistic estimates of future water use. The firm says: “Our team is experienced in water... and... will gain consensus around a program of actions that best balances the regions’ needs within available water resources as the state of Georgia plans for sustainable future water supplies.”

A few facts: 1) These councils are strictly advisory; 2) They are entirely appointed by the Governor, Lt Governor and the legislative Speaker of the House; 3) The engineering firm for this particular region was selected by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division; 4) These 3 planning regions are in SW Georgia where Ag use (irrigation) dwarfs all other uses; and 5) These regions are already over developed (water-wise) as evidenced by the water right auctions held during the last drought.

My predictions: 1) Sustainability with the state's long-term needs at the forefront likely does not portend well for Ag users in these regions under this arrangement; 2) Some of these regional planning councils will eventually implode citing their "yes-man" expectations as the reason; and 3) You gotta love the generic rhetoric, but eventually the planners will see what it really means.

I wish them the best and I hope I'm wrong on all 3 predictions, but I'm pretty sure "sustainable water resources" is a lot easier to think and say than it is to do - especially when water use reductions are going to be required to reach it.

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