The Coastal Georgia Regional Water Plan was initially completed in 2011 and subsequently updated in 2017 and 2023. The plan outlines near-term and long-term strategies to meet water needs through 2060.
The Coastal Georgia Region includes nine counties in southeast Georgia. Over the next 40 years, the population of the region is projected to grow by approximately 298,000 residents from approximately 715,000 in 2020 to 1.0 million residents by 2060. Key economic drivers in the region include port, industry, business, tourism, trade, government facilities, and transportation, especially associated with the Brunswick and Savannah Harbors and Interstate 95. Energy production, manufacturing and silviculture are also significant to the region. Agriculture production occurs across the region, especially in the northern portion. Water supplies, wastewater treatment, and related infrastructure will need to be developed and maintained to support these economic drivers. Management of water resources to sustain the unique coastal environment is an important goal of the region.
Groundwater, mainly from the Floridan aquifer, is needed to meet about 65% of the municipal, industrial, and agricultural needs, with the municipal and industrial uses being the dominant demand sectors. Surface water is needed to meet about 35% of these needs, with municipal and industrial uses as the dominant demand sectors.
Water resource challenges in the region include: salt water intrusion concerns in the Savannah-Hilton Head area and in the Brunswick area in Glynn County; water quality challenges associated with low dissolved oxygen in some portions of the region, most notably the Savannah River Harbor. As a result of the TMDL/5R stakeholder process, the Savannah Harbor was reclassified to Category 5R; and a potential need for improved wastewater treatment within the Ogeechee, Altamaha, and St. Marys River basins.
Management practices are needed to address these challenges including: water conservation; refining planning information; alternate sources of supply in areas where groundwater or surface water availability may be limited; maximizing use of existing aquifer; consideration of aquifer storage and recovery; improving/ upgrading wastewater treatment; and addressing non-point sources of pollution.