Meeting Summary: Upper Flint Council March 22, 2017

Meeting Summary

Upper Flint Regional Water Council Meeting

Flint Energies Headquarters – Reynolds, GA

March 22, 2017

Welcome, Introductions, Chairman's Discussion

Council Chair Donald Chase also thanked members for taking time to participate in the meeting and offered an invocation. A quorum of members was present. Chairman Chase presented the summary of the February 7, 2017 Council meeting for review. Following a motion by Dick Morrow and a second by Hays Arnold, the meeting summary from the February 7, 2017 Upper Flint Council meeting was approved by consensus.  Kristin Rowles (GWPPC) then reviewed the meeting agenda and objectives.

Review Revisions to Sections 6 and 7.4

Kristin reviewed the revisions to Sections 6 and 7.4 that had been made since the February Council meeting. The Council was sent a draft of these sections with the edits marked as a pre-meeting material. Council discussion was as follows:

  • Management Practice WQ-3
    • Consider periodic investigation or assessment of stream buffer implementation.
    • EPD is already strict on buffer requirements, particularly at construction sites.
    • The expense of installing and maintaining buffers can be considerable. There should be incentives similar to USDA Conservation Stewardship Program or Environmental Quality Incentive Program.
    • Recommend increasing 319 funds which could be used to generally address nonpoint control and specifically to add buffers in existing development (developed before buffers were required).  
  • Management Practice WQ-5
    • It was clarified that a “clearinghouse” would probably be something like an internet-based dataset for general public use.
  • Section 7.4, p. 7-24
    • Delete “raised” in paragraph at top of page.

Joint Recommendations Review

The Council then reviewed the joint recommendations developed with the Lower Flint-Ochlockonee and Middle Chattahoochee Regional Water Councils. A subcommittee with representatives of all three Councils met by teleconference on March 21 to consider the draft joint recommendations. The draft joint recommendations agreed upon during that teleconference were presented to the Council for discussion. The draft joint recommendations included the following:

  • Recognize the critical need for better use of existing storage and for more storage in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) System and recommend that a plan for additional storage be developed and implemented and that it consider the following: better utilization of existing storage in the Chattahoochee, new storage in the Flint, and enhancement of existing storage capacity.
  • Urge EPD and those involved in the resource assessment modeling to improve upon existing models for future regional water planning by further expanding use of actual and current data on water use and conditions and continuing to refine assumptions to more closely approximate actual conditions. 
  • Consider the creation of a new coordinated, interstate planning organization for the ACF System. Membership in this organization to represent Georgia shall include, but not be limited to, members of the regional water councils with regions that include parts of the ACF. Consider the recommendation of the ACF Stakeholders in its Sustainable Water Management Plan regarding an ACF transboundary water management institution as this organization is developed.

Council discussion on the joint recommendations was as follows:

  • Subcommittee members reported on the March 21 conference call with adjoining council members.
  • It was explained that the third recommendation was modified to focus on an interstate planning organization instead of an interstate water management institution. The recommendation was also modified to state that the new organization should include members of the Regional Water Councils.

Following a motion by Hays Arnold and a second by Jem Morris, the Council approved the three joint recommendations, as presented, by consensus.

Rotational Review Sessions for Edits to Sections 1 through 5, 7, & 8

The Council then broke into small groups to review Sections 1 through 5, Section 7 (7.1 to 7.3), and Section 8 of the draft plan.  The small groups met over lunch. Each small group developed some suggestions for edits, which were considered when the full Council reconvened.

Discussion of Comments from Review Sessions

Kristin then reviewed proposed edits to the draft plan stemming from breakout groups and the morning part of the Council meeting to the full Council. The following revisions were discussed:

  • Section 5.3
    • EPD offered a correction to a sentence in the 3rd paragraph of this sentence as follows: “Downstream of the region, at the Florida border, the model results for Lake Seminole indicated that while current total phosphorus loading is primarily from point sources, future increases in total phosphorus loading nutrient loadings will be primarily point source related.”
  • Management Practice WQ-3
    • Based on the morning’s discussion, Kristin offered the following to revise the last bullet point in the description column of WQ-3: Encourage implementation and maintenance of stream buffers to improve water quality in the region. Incentive programs can support better implementation and maintenance, improve buffer quality, and adding buffers in existing developments. The Council recommends increased funding for 319 grants to support nonpoint source control projects.
    • Mark this management practice as a high priority management practice (in addition to those already listed as high priority).
  • Section 7: To emphasize the importance of implementation funding for the Plan, Council members suggested the following modifications:
    • Move the 2nd paragraph in Section 7.2 to the introduction for Section 7 (just under Section 7 heading).
    • In the Water Policy Recommendations in Section 7.4, modify the 2nd bullet point as follows: The Council recommends that the Georgia General Assembly and implementing agencies, such as EPD, explore all possible funding sources to offset or pay for many of the management practices outlined in the Plan. The Council emphasizes that funding for plan implementation is the Council’s highest priority. Financial incentives and…
    • Insert the same sentence added to the recommendation to p. ES-7 in the Executive Summary after “…“…all possible funding sources to support implementation of the Plan.”

Following a motion by Dick Morrow and a second by Joel Wood, the Council approved the above edits by consensus.

Additional Proposals for Further Edits

Kristin presented slides with edits proposed by Council members in advance of the meeting for the Council’s consideration:

  • Management Practice WQ-3
    • Modify the list of organizations to coordinate with for the speaker’s bureau to delete American Public Works Association and add the Georgia Association of Water Professionals and the American Water Works Association. Suggested by Brant Keller.
    • It was suggested to also adding Regional Commissions and Georgia Rural Water Association.
    • The above deletion and additions were approved by consensus.
  • Table 7-2: Add “stormwater utility fees” as potential funding source for WQ-3, WQ-4, and WQ-5. Suggested by Brant Keller. Approved by consensus.
  • Section 7.4, Information Needs:
    • Add the following as a new bullet point. This is from the Middle Chattahoochee draft plan, with some slight modifications. Suggested by Fred Granitz.
      • Improve estimates and forecasts of water use by the energy sector to support regional water planning in Georgia. The EPD developed energy water use forecasts for the 2011 and 2017 planning cycles, but this forecasting did not identify geographically specific water needs. Energy water use forecasting should also account for greater cooling tower efficiencies, energy conservation, future increases in power production, water quality, and other factors, as appropriate. 
    • Add the following as a new bullet point. Suggested by Fred Granitz.
      • Evaluate additional low-flow statistics for use in surface water availability resource assessment. In addition to monthly 7Q10, consider use of the following metrics to improve understanding of instream flows: 20% AAD; stratified 7Q10 (e.g. prior to 1975); one-day minima; 3Q30
    • Both of the above additions were approved by consensus.
  • Section 7.4, Water Policy Recommendations, 4th bullet point
    • Fred Granitz suggested that the bullet point be modified to add the following at the end of the bullet point: The Council also supports evaluation of the feasibility of reversal of existing IBTs to return water to the region’s surface waters. Evaluation should include consideration of costs, flow impacts, and sources of funding.
    • Council members discussed this proposed edit, and some were concerned that the new text contradicted the existing text.
    • Chairman Chase suggested that this item could be a matter for further discussion in a committee with consideration of any recommended changes at the June meeting. The Council members did not object to this plan.
    • Following a motion from Lamar Perlis and a second from Gary Powell, the Council agreed to table the suggested edit by consensus.

Public Comment

Ben Emanuel (American Rivers) gave an overview of American Rivers’ work in the Upper Flint. He complimented the Council’s work on their draft plan and thanked the members for their dedication. He offered support for Council recommendations on increased funding for plan implementation, consideration of an interstate planning organization, removal of ASR as a management practice, and assessment of the impacts of land application systems. He also suggested the Council consider language related to the regulatory definition of stream buffers in Georgia.

Following a motion by Dick Morrow and a second by Fred Granitz, the Council approved adding language for WQ-3 recommending that the Georgia General Assembly clarify the regulatory definition of stream buffers to ensure consistent application throughout the state.

Approve Plan for Public Review

Following a motion by Dick Morrow and a second by Hays Arnold, the Council approved releasing the draft plan for public comment, as amended during this meeting, by consensus.

Overview of Public Review Process, Next Steps, and Adjournment

John Allen (Kazmarek, Mowrey, Cloud and Lasseter) provided the Council an update on the Florida v. Georgia litigation. He reported that the recommendation of the Special master has been released and briefing to the Supreme Court will be complete by July. He said that oral arguments before the Court will likely occur during the fall of 2017 with an anticipated decision sometime in early 2018.

Kristin said that the next Council meeting will be in June. She will poll members about possible dates. At that time, the Council will consider comments from the public review of the draft Plan (to be conducted during April and May), make further revisions to the Plan, as needed, and consider final approval of the revised Plan for submittal to EPD.

Council Chair Donald Chase thanked members for attending and the meeting was adjourned.

Council Members Attending March 22, 2017 Meeting:

  • Dick Morrow, Vice Chair
  • Hays Arnold
  • Gene Brunson
  • Fred Granitz
  • Jack Holbrook
  • Terrell Hudson
  • Raines Jordan
  • Jem Morris
  • Lamar Perlis
  • Gary Powell
  • Larry Smith
  • Brian Upson
  • Rodney Wilson
  • Joel Wood
  • Donald Chase, Chair

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