Meeting Summary: Middle Chattachoochee Council April 6, 2016

Meeting Summary

Middle Chattahoochee Regional Water Council Meeting

LaGrange Chamber of Commerce – LaGrange, GA

April 6, 2016

Welcome, Introductions, Chairman's Discussion

Middle Chattahoochee Council Chair Steve Davis thanked the members for attending the meeting. Council member and LaGrange Mayor James Thornton welcomed everyone to LaGrange. Council members and guests introduced themselves. Following a motion and second, the summary from the September 2015 Middle Chattahoochee Council meeting was approved as presented.

Status of Council Comments to GAEPD and GAEPD’s Letter to the Corps

Kristin Rowles (Georgia Water Planning and Policy Center) reviewed the Council’s preparation and submission of a comment letter on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the ACF Water Control Manual (WCM). While the DEIS was developed by the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division requested that Council comments be sent to GAEPD for consideration in the state’s comments on the DEIS to the USACE. The Council submitted a letter of comment, following an e-mail based poll of members to approve the draft text of the letter, on December 29, 2015. The letter was included in the pre-meeting packet for this Council meeting.

Gail Cowie (GAEPD) provided an overview of the comment letter for the DEIS and submitted to USACE from the State of Georgia. That letter was also included in the pre-meeting packet for this meeting. Gail Cowie indicated that the final Environmental Impact Statement is not expected until early 2017.

The Council discussion of the comment letters and the DEIS was as follows:

  • It was clarified that the State is using the DEIS planning horizon of 2050.
  • A Council member expressed concern with the State’s comments, particularly as they related to water quality and the lack of support by the State for a planning node at Columbus. The latter was recommended by the Council in its comment letter.
  • Another Council member explained that the model can be used to evaluate impacts at Columbus, but an actual water control node at Columbus requires management for that node, which is less flexible but also offers more assurance.
  • A Council member said that West Point Lake is in a similar situation. Management can target particular outcomes for the lake, but a rule curve change would require management for particular outcomes. The former is more flexible for management, while the latter is more guaranteed in terms of outcomes.
  • Regarding water quality, Gail Cowie commented that USACE modeling for water quality did not address the state’s on-going efforts to reduce nutrient loading (e.g., TMDL for Lake Lanier).
  • Gail Cowie also noted that the State’s comments indicated that the DEIS did not consider raising the full pool level of Lake Lanier, and the State commented that this option should be considered.

Kristin Rowles noted the importance of considering how the DEIS and comment letters relate to the review and revision process for the Council’s regional water plan, especially given that the final Environmental Impact Statement is not expected until 2017 and may come after the completion of the Council’s revised plan. Chairman Davis asked that the Council’s subcommittee appointed in September 2015 to review the DEIS continue its work to make recommendations to the Council about what the revised plan should include to address the expected changes in the WCM.

Plan Review and Revision Schedule

Jim Hawkins (Black and Veatch) 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 (Jim Hawkins, Robert Osborne) and the Georgia Water Planning and Policy Center (Kristin Rowles, Mark Masters). From GAEPD, Christine Voudy 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.

Update on the Metro Water District Plan Schedule

Danny Johnson from the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District presented an update 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:

  • Mr. Johnson clarified that the future water use projections include some assumptions about future adoption of efficiency fixtures, per the plumbing code.
  • In response to a question about water reuse, Mr. Johnson said that the Metro Water District does not encourage reuse for irrigation purposes unless it is in replacement of existing potable supply.
  • In response to a question about septic systems, Mr. Johnson said that the updated plan will encourage regular maintenance of septic systems through education and outreach. It will reduce the expected conversion rate assumed in the previous version of the plan for septic systems to central sewer. He said that conversion has happened in some areas of the Metro Water District more slowly than previously anticipated.
  • In response to a question about drought management, Mr. Johnson said that the updated plan will include emergency water management practices, including measures for extreme drought operations. He also said that the District is looking at opportunities for making use of predictive drought measures.

Mr. Johnson offered to provide additional data from the Plan update process and to work with Council members on additional technical questions/concerns. 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 an edit to the Vision statement to address suggested changes in the 2015 Priorities report. Kristin suggested the following edit (underlined):

Our vision is that our descendants have safe, clean and abundant water to meet their needs in the Middle Chattahoochee Region; seeking to accomplish that through reasonable efforts in cooperation, education, sound science, and preservation.

Through discussion, Council members revised the edits to:

Our vision is that our descendants have safe, clean and abundant water to meet their needs in the Middle Chattahoochee Region; seeking to accomplish that through reasonable efforts in cooperation, education, scientific research, best available data, and preservation.

The Council approved this revised Vision statement by consensus. Lacking a quorum, the Council will revisit this decision when a quorum is present.

Kristin suggested a new goal to add to the list of goals to address another suggested changes in the 2015 Priorities report. The suggested new goal is:

9. Inter-state Water Planning: The plan will recognize the importance of inter-state coordination in water planning to provide for sustainable management of shared water resources.

The Council approved adding this goal to its list of goals by consensus. Lacking a quorum, the Council will revisit this decision when a quorum is present.

Population Projection Updates

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:

  • A few Council members commented that the population forecasts seem to be very low.
  • A Council member said that the long-term trends might imply a higher population forecast than what is predicted based on the trend of the last several years.
  • Christine Voudy (GAEPD) commented that the demographer that produced the population forecasts has explained that trends in age structure and migration have an impact in the forecasts.
  • Several Council members commented that they do not want to be too conservative in the population forecasts.
  • Some Council members suggested that a comparison between the OPB population projections and those compiled by Georgia Power may be helpful.
  • A Council member referenced a recent Atlanta Journal Constitution article about 2015 population levels. He said that the article suggests that these forecasts may already be too low.

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

Robert Osborne (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:

  • A Council member commented that total use numbers he is estimating for purposes of permitting are much lower than those in the demand forecast presented. Gail Cowie commented that the numbers presented are for regional planning purposes and that those used in the individual permitting will likely be different.
  • Robert clarified that the industrial water and wastewater forecast numbers include only individually permitted industries within the State of Georgia.
  • Discussion concerning possible modifications to energy forecast.
  • It was noted that Georgia Power is considering a new facility in Stewart County that could affect water use and population in this Council region in the future.

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.

Kristin said that GAEPD has also proposed changes to the Operating Procedures. These changes will modify how a quorum is defined. GAEPD has suggested the following process for Council’s that do not have a quorum to adopt the Consent to Renew and changes to the Operating Procedures: vote on approval at this meeting (even if a quorum is not present), record that approval in the meeting summary, request review of the Consent to Renew and changes to the Operating Procedures by the Council members, and complete the approval process at the next meeting with the adoption of the meeting summary. The new quorum rules would apply at that time. This process allows for full Council review before adoption.

Following a motion and second, the Council members present approved by consensus the Consent to Renew and the proposed approval process (described above) 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 modifications were proposed by GAEPD and included in the pre-meeting packet for this meeting. The Council discussed and adopted the following modifications to the suggested edits:

  • In the Quorum definition, the Council approved changing the suggested edit of “three or more Council meetings” to read “two or more Council meetings” at the top of page two of the document.  
  • Under Number and Qualifications (Section IV. Council Leadership), the Council approved the following wording instead of the wording suggested by GAEPD: “The Chair and Vice Chair shall be selected by two-thirds majority and shall serve for one year or until such a time as subsequent selections of the Chair or Vice Chair are made.
  • Add “[Voting Members]” after “Participation in decision making” in Section V. Decision Making.
  • Modify all references to “fifty percent plus one” to instead read “more than fifty percent.”

Other than the above modifications, the Council was generally supportive of the proposed edits to the Operating Procedures.

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

Kristin will circulate the Consent to Renew, the Memorandum of Agreement, and the modified Operating Procedures to all Council members for review with the meeting summary. Council members will be asked to review these actions so that they can be approved with adoption of the meeting summary at the next Council meeting. At that time, the new quorum definition will apply.

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. Council discussion was as follows:

  • In response to a question, Mark clarified that the animal water use estimates does not include water use by animal processing facilities. Water use by those facilities would be in municipal or industrial water use estimates and forecasts.
  • The Chair asked if we can foresee any concerns about future water availability for agriculture in this region. Mark answered that future water access would depend on a variety of factors, environmental, legal, and otherwise. He noted that while adequate water is currently available, any of these factors could affect future availability.

Forecasts of agricultural water demand will be presented at the next Council meeting.

Local Water Resources Management Presentation

Council member Matt Windom gave a presentation on the Carroll County Water Authority (CCWA). He is the Executive Director of the Authority. CCWA serves unincorporated Carroll County and several city and county wholesale customers. CCWA was created in 1967.  Mr. Windom discussed the raw water source, the water treatment plant, distribution system, and future projects. He also noted that average daily demand for CCWA is 4.57 MGD, and peak day demand is 6.61 MGD. 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.

319 Program Special Grant Opportunity

Christine Voudy (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. Her slides were included in the pre-meeting packet for the meeting.

Public Comment

Scott Thackston 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: www.gatrees.org  Chairman Davis said that the Council can recommend strict adherence to BMP requirements for forestry in the regional water plan.

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:

  • Review of the Metro Water District draft plan, when available (Kristin will notify the Council).
  • Continued work by the Water Control Manual subcommittee to develop recommendations for how to address the proposed Water Control Manual changes in the review and revision of the regional water plan.
  • Adoption of the proposed changes to the Vision and Goals at the next Council meeting.
  • 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 Robert Osborne (Black and Veatch).
  • Review and Adoption of Consent to Renew the Memorandum of Agreement and Revised Operating Procedures – Kristin will circulate these documents for review prior to final approval at the next Council meeting.

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 Steve Davis thanked members for attending, and the meeting was adjourned.

Council Members Attending April 6, 2016 Meeting:

  • Steve Davis, Chair
  • Harry Lange, Vice Chair
  • Alan Bell
  • Paul Chappell
  • Dallas Jankowski
  • Aaron McWhorter
  • Jim Thornton
  • Don Watson
  • Matt Windom
  • Greg Wood
  • Jim Woods
  • Senator Bill 

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