Meeting Summary: Lower Flint-Ochlockonee Council April 4, 2016

Meeting Summary

Lower Flint-Ochlockonee Water Council Meeting

Riverfront Resource Center – Albany, GA

April 4, 2016

Welcome, Introductions, Chairman's Discussion, and Review of Meeting Summary

Lower Flint-Ochlockonee Council Chair Richard Royal welcomed Council members and asked observers to introduce themselves. Following a motion and second, the summary from the September 2015 Lower Flint-Ochlockonee meeting was approved as presented. Kristin Rowles (Georgia Water Planning and Policy Center) reviewed the meeting agenda.

Plan Review and Revision Process and Schedule

Kristin Rowles introduced the team for the review and revision of the Council’s regional water plan. The planning consultants for the Council will be from Black and Veatch (Steve Simpson, Robert Osborne) and the Georgia Water Planning and Policy Center (Kristin Rowles, Mark Masters). From GAEPD, Gail Cowie will continue to serve as the Council liaison.

Kristin Rowles provided an overview of the Plan review and revision process. The Council will meet five times over the next 12 months (including today’s meeting) to complete this process. The Council will receive updated water and wastewater forecasts and resource assessments (surface water availability, groundwater availability, and surface water quality) in next few months. This information, as well as the Council’s vision and goals and public input, will support consideration of revisions to the regional water plan. Kristin’s slides are available upon request.

Metro Water District Plan Update

Danny Johnson from the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District presented a report on the Metro Water District’s water plan update. The District will have a draft plan available for review this summer and requests the Council’s input on the plan at that time.

Council discussion was as follows:

  • A Council member asked for more information on how water use reduced during the economic recession. Mr. Johnson said that they believe that a large number of foreclosures caused a reduction in use, some consumers cut back use to reduce monthly expenses, and many people chose multi-family housing over single-family housing to reduce expenses. At the same time, there was less irrigation as a result of public education and rigorous outdoor water use restrictions.
  • A Council member asked how modeling has been used now and in the past for the Metro Water District plan. Mr. Johnson showed that for earlier plans, forecast models had predicted higher water use than has been observed.

Mr. Johnson offered to provide additional data from the Plan update process and to work with Council members on additional technical questions/concerns. Several Council members volunteered to serve on a subcommittee to review the draft plan: Jimmy Webb, Casey Cox, Huddy Hudgens, and Vince Falcione.  Kristin Rowles said that she will notify Council members when the draft Metro Water District Plan is available for review.

Review Vision and Goals

Kristin then led a discussion concerning possible revisions for the Council’s Vision and Goals. The Vision and Goals were included in the pre-meeting packet, as well as material regarding the Vision and Goals from the Council’s report: Priorities for 5-Year Review and Revision of Regional Water Plan (2015).

Kristin suggested the following edit to the Vision statement to address suggested changes in the 2015 Priorities report (underlined):

The Lower Flint Ochlockonee Water Planning Council will plan for the management of water resources in a sustainable manner to support the region’s economy, to protect public health and natural systems, and to enhance the quality of life for the region’s citizens.

The Council approved this revised Vision statement by consensus. Kristin said there were no proposed changes to the Goals. She asked for input from the Council for any additional changes to the Vision and Goals, and there were no further suggested changes.

Population Projections

The Council was presented with the updated population projections at its September 2015 meeting. Kristin reviewed the forecast methods and the updated population projections for the Council region. She said that the population projections are from the Office of Planning and Budget (OPB) and are not subject to adjustment based on Council input. Kristin suggested that the Council instead consider how the forecasts affect the water and wastewater forecasts and whether adjustments should be made in those.

Council discussion was as follows:

  • Several Council members expressed concern at the projected decline in population projections for certain counties.
  • A Council member questioned how water use by seasonal residents is addressed if these residents are not in the population forecasts. Steve Simpson (Black and Veatch) reported that the municipal and industrial water use forecasts include an estimate of this use and that he will provide additional clarification in his presentation today.

Methodology and Presentation of Draft Municipal, Industrial, and Energy Forecasts

Steve Simpson (Black and Veatch) presented draft updated municipal, industrial, and energy water use and wastewater estimates. His slides are available upon request. A handout was provided that included summaries of municipal water and wastewater demands and information for each county in the Water Council Region. Council discussion of the forecasts was as follows:

  • In response to a Council member’s question, Steve said that the municipal water use estimates do not specifically address single vs. multi-family housing use.
  • A Council member questioned the high per capita water use levels in Early and Miller Counties. Steve said that high per capita numbers can result when there is water that is distributed across county lines, but attributed to only one county. Also, some counties may have large industrial users that are individually permitted while others may be operating on the municipal system. He will look into the estimates for these counties.
  • In response to a question, Steve Simpson said that the water use associated with two large poultry processing facilities (in Mitchell and Colquitt Counties) is accounted for in the municipal demand forecasts.
  • A Council member asked how water use at Farley Nuclear Plant in Alabama is considered. Steve responded that municipal and industrial water use from the Chattahoochee Basin in Alabama will be included in the surface water availability assessment being completed by GAEPD.

Agricultural Water Use Forecasts

Mark Masters (GWPPC) provided a summary of the approach and methods associated with the agricultural demand update that will support the Council’s 2016 Plan review and revision. Results from the current agricultural demand estimate based on data from the Agricultural Metering Program were also presented. His slides are available upon request. In response to a question from a Council member, Mark said that the water use estimates can be presented by river basin. Forecasts of agricultural water demand will be presented at the next Council meeting.

Updates to MOA and Operating Procedures

Kristin Rowles said that GAEPD has proposed some changes to the governing documents for the Council. The Memorandum of Agreement between the Council, GAEPD, and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs has been in effect since 2009. GAEPD has proposed a renewal of that agreement with Consent to Renew. The Consent to Renew document was passed out to Council members at the meeting.

Following a motion and second, the Council approved by consensus the Consent to Renew and authorized the Chair to sign the Consent to Renew on behalf of the Council.

Kristin then reviewed proposed changes to the Council’s Operating Procedures. The suggested edits change the definition of a quorum, the timing of meetings, Chair and Vice Chair selection, and amendments to the Operating Procedures and Rules for Meetings. The suggested edits also modify how meeting notices are made. The changes to the quorum definition change how a quorum is counted.

The modifications were proposed by GAEPD and included in the pre-meeting packet for this meeting. The Council discussed a modification to the “Selection of Chair and Vice Chair” section under “Council Leadership,” as follows:

Selection of Chair and Vice-Chair. The initial Chair and Vice-Chair shall be selected by simple majority (i.e., 50 percent plus one) vote of the members present at the first regular meeting of the Lower Flint-Ochlockonee Water Planning Council. Subsequent Selections of Council Chair or Vice Chair shall be made by simple majority vote.

At the request of Chairman Royal, Kristin reviewed the decision-making process approved by the Council during the first round of planning.

Following a motion and second, the Council approved by consensus the modifications as proposed and as modified above by the Council.

319 Program Special Grant Opportunity

Gail Cowie (GAEPD) reported on a 319 Program special grant opportunity to support the development of a watershed management plan for a sub-basin within the region. She asked for Council input on possible contractors and sub-basins for the project. Council members gave the following input:

  • Council members Connie Hobbs and Hal Haddock both suggested that the Council recommend the Golden Triangle Resource Conservation and Development Council as the contractor for this grant opportunity.
  • Council members recommended projects in Thomas, Grady and Terrell Counties.

Following a motion and second, the Council approved a subcommittee of Ray Prince, Connie Hobbs, Johnny Heath and Elaine Mays to coordinate with Golden Triangle Resource Conservation and Development Council and GAEPD to finalize selections for a watershed for the 319 Special Project grant opportunity.

Presentation: Georgia Rural Water Association (GRWA)

Jeff Hanner (Georgia Rural Water Association) provided an overview of GRWA and the water-related services it performs for rural municipalities in Georgia. His slides are available upon request.

Planning for Joint Council Meeting

Kristin Rowles provided an overview for the upcoming joint Council meeting. An exact date and location for the joint meeting has not been set but will likely be in late June. Kristin will provide the information to Council members as soon as it is available.

Public Comment

Bert Earley of the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) provided the results of a recent survey of Best Management Practice (BMP) implementation by forestry operations in Georgia. The results show a high level of compliance with water quality protection requirements. He said that more information can be found at the GFC website: 

Jennifer Welte (GAEPD) notified the Council of a graduate student (UGA) request to survey Council members regarding the regional water planning process. Hard copy surveys were distributed to members of the Council.

Next Steps and Adjourn Council Meeting

Kristin Rowles distributed a meeting evaluation to Council members and reviewed follow-up items from the meeting, including:

  • Subcommittee to review the Metro Water District draft plan, when available (Kristin will notify the Council)
  • Council members to provide input on the municipal, industrial, and energy forecasts – Council members that have information on pending changes that could affect these forecasts should provide information to Steve Simpson (Black and Veatch).
  • Subcommittee to advise GAEPD and Golden Triangle Resource Conservation and Development Council on watershed selection for the 319 Special Project Grant Opportunity

Kristin will notify the Council members about the date, time, and location of the next Council meeting, which will be a joint council meeting.

Council Chair Richard Royal thanked members for attending and adjourned the meeting at 1:40pm.

Council Members Attending April 4, 2016 Meeting:

  • Richard Royal, Chair
  • Hal Haddock, Vice Chair
  • Steve Bailey
  • Jimmy Champion
  • Casey Cox
  • Vince Falcione
  • John Heath
  • Connie Hobbs
  • Huddy Hudgens
  • Jerry Lee
  • Charles Lingle
  • J. Elaine Mays
  • Mike Newberry
  • Calvin Perry
  • Ray Prince
  • Jim Quinn
  • James Webb