Coastal Region Implementation
Implementation of the Coastal Georgia Regional Water Plan is carried out largely by the various water users and wastewater utilities in the region. Effective implementation of the Regional Water Plan will require the availability of sufficient funding in the form of loans and grants. In addition, ongoing coordination and collaboration among stakeholders is crucial for successful implementation. The following provides an overview of some key implementation projects and funding sources within the Coastal Georgia Region:
GEFA Funding Projects
The Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) provides loans and grants in the region to support wastewater and drinking water related projects. In total $160 million in loans have been provided across the Coastal Region since 2010. Of this $98.7 million was from the Clean Water Fund, $53.2 million from the Georgia Fund, $8.5 million from the Drinking Water Fund, and $100,000 for water reuse.
Savannah River TMDL/5R
To address dissolved oxygen levels in the Savannah Harbor, stakeholders including Georgia EPD, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), and the Savannah River/Harbor Discharger Group initiated a 5R process with concurrence from the U.S. EPA. The group collaboratively developed an alternative watershed restoration plan to meet applicable water quality standards for the Savannah River and Harbor in lieu of a TMDL. The Council has been a supporter of the 5R plan.
A total of 24 counties in southeast Georgia are subject to the Coastal Georgia Water and Wastewater Permitting Plan for Managing Salt Water Intrusion (Coastal Permitting Plan). Groundwater pumping or withdrawals in coastal regions can lead to salt water intrusion which is the movement of saline waters into freshwater aquifers. As a result of concerns over salt water intrusion, the Coastal Permitting Plan placed restrictions on groundwater withdrawals from the Floridan aquifer, particularly for permit holders in Chatham, Bryan, Liberty and parts of Effingham County. To accommodate both the regional planning process and bi-state agreements on managing groundwater, the Coastal Council developed a flexible and adaptive approach for meeting regional groundwater needs.
Regional Water Plan Seed Grants provide competitive funding annually to support and incentivize local governments and other water users as they undertake implementation of the Regional Water Plan. EPD Seed Grants have help fund $210,000 of projects since 2015 in the Coastal Region including:
University of Georgia (UGA) Study of Coastal Estuaries and Water Quality
UGA Extension working jointly with Coastal, Altamaha and Savannah-Upper Ogeechee on both Ag and Urban Water Conservation and Water Quality management practices, including outreach and education
See REGIONAL HIGHLIGHTS for more information.