Meeting Summary: Upper Flint Council June 21, 2017

Meeting Summary

Upper Flint Regional Water Council Meeting

South Georgia Technical College – Americus, GA

June 21, 2017

Upper Flint Chair Donald Chase welcomed members, thanked everyone for their attendance and offered an invocation. He reported on a recent conversation with a group proposing a reservoir in the Upper Flint Council region. He suggested that, moving forward, the Council should be open to hearing about and not dismiss any potential management practices or solutions without further review and study.

Chairman Chase presented the summary of the March 22, 2017 Council meeting for review. Following brief clarification of the GAEPD 319 grant program and language referencing a Council recommendation on the definition of stream buffers, the meeting summary from the March 22, 2017 Upper Flint Council meeting was approved by consensus.

Glen Behrend thanked the Council members for their work in completing the current plan revision and informed the Council of resources available to support the Council during plan implementation (after plan approval). More specific plans were discussed later in the meeting.

Kristin reviewed plan edits since the last draft distributed to the Council. Most of the edits related to consistency in terminology and presentation. Kristin reviewed some edits individually to ensure Council understanding of the changes.

Next, Kristin reported that she and Steve Simpson (Black & Veatch) had contacted the planning contractors for the Middle Ocmulgee Council and tried to contact the planning contractors for the Suwannee - Satilla Council to discuss plan alignment for the small areas in which these Councils share water resources (Ocmulgee and Suwannee basins). Although the coordination meeting could not be arranged with the Suwannee - Satilla Council, Kristin and Steve discussed the plans of the Upper Flint and Middle Ocmulgee Councils with that Council’s contractor. Additionally, it was noted that GAEPD review of the document had noted no conflicts between the Upper Flint Council’s plans and other regional water plans. Kristin suggested the following changes to address coordinated planning with the Suwannee - Satilla and Middle Ocmulgee Councils:

  • Change the last sentence of the first paragraph on p. 3-6 to read: “The Upper Flint Water Planning Council will continue to communicate with these Councils in evaluating assessment results to support coordination in their respective Regional Water Plans.”
  • Change the last sentence of footnote 2 on p. 5-3 to read: “The Upper Flint Water Planning Council will continue to communicate with these Councils in evaluating assessment results to support coordination in their respective Regional Water Plans.”

The Council approved this change by consensus.

Kristin said that three public comments were received on the plan during the public review period. Two of the comments are included in the comment/response log that was distributed in the pre-meeting packet. A third comment was received late and was reviewed and discussed at this meeting. One comment from the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District was a letter offering congratulations on the plan and looking forward to continued work together between the District and the Council. Kristin reviewed the comment/response log for the American Rivers comment with the Council, and the following is a summary of the discussion:

  • GAEPD provided clarification regarding model improvements to capture impacts of farm ponds. The Council discussed whether to change its current management practice and recommendation that address small ponds, including farm ponds, to address all similarly sized impoundments. It was agreed that alternative language would be drafted for Council consideration later in the meeting.
  • The Council also discussed adding a recommendation about review of the Unimpaired Flows dataset to Section 7.4. It was agreed that alternative language would be drafted for Council consideration later in the meeting.
  • The Council discussed language regarding specific environmental flow targets, as addressed on p. 7-14 of the plan. The Council discussed the ELOHA approach, which was recommended by American Rivers. The Council members generally supported additional data collection and modeling related to this topic, but did not reach agreement on recommending specific flow targets or approaches. The Council agreed to add “or other relevant approaches” to the end of the third bullet point under information needs to broaden the scope of this recommendation to include more than those metrics listed. The Council approved this change by consensus.
  • The Council approved by consensus the modification of SF-4 to read: “Continue to evaluate the development of farm ponds in the Upper Flint Water Planning Region.”
  • The Council discussed whether to address the emphasis on reservoir storage in its plan. The Council did not make any changes to the plan as a result of this discussion. The Council also discussed whether SF-1 should continue to be a high priority management practice and affirmed keeping it marked as such.

An additional comment from Nutter & Associates, Inc. was received late due to a technical issue, and therefore it was not included with the comment/response log. The comment/response log will be amended to include this comment. The Nutter and Associates comment was distributed to the Council, and Kristin reviewed the comment. It addressed concern that Land Application Systems are not 100% consumptive and because the regional planning process treats them as such, the regional water plans may not favor the use of LAS. The Council discussed this comment and did not propose any changes to its plan. It was noted that this issue has been discussed by the Council many times, and better regionally specific information is needed to fully address the issue.

Kristin said that a committee had worked on proposed language to resolve how to address a proposal of Council Member Fred Granitz regarding reversal of interbasin transfers (IBTs). Kristin described the committee’s work and presented the proposed modification from the committee, which would replace the highlighted text on p. 7-17 with the following (including a new footnote):

The Council also supports the evaluation of the feasibility of reversing existing IBT's in the Flint River Basin and returning water to the region's surface waters. On a case by case basis, additional scientific research is necessary to determine the costs and effects to water and wastewater service providers for modifying facilities, estimate the return flow benefit to the basin of origin, and identify sources for funding to reverse IBT's. An example of such research is available in a report prepared for the City of Griffin by the Paragon Consulting Group (Technical Memorandum: Flint River Basin/Ocmulgee River Basin "Interbasin Transfer Analysis,” 2016). This report estimates the costs and flow benefits for IBT reversal for the City of Griffin’s utilities.1 

 1This report estimates that reversing the IBT at Griffin’s Cabin Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant would cost approximately $6 million and provide a return flow benefit of approximately 0.75 mgd.

Kristin asked the committee members to comment on the committee proposal. All committee members supported the proposal. Committee member Dick Morrow presented a slide that showed the detailed cost and flow benefit estimates of reversing IBTs and retiring a LAS system in Griffin. His slide indicated that the costs of these projects would be very high, especially relative to the projected flow benefits. The Council approved the committee’s proposed alternative language by consensus.

There were no further proposals from the Council for changes to the draft plan.

Review High Priority Management Practice Selection

Kristin reviewed with the Council its selection of high priority management practices. The Council affirmed its designated set of management practices that are marked as high priority.

After a lunch break, the Council considered draft text to address points of discussion during the review of public comments. In this discussion, the Council approved by consensus the addition of the following bullet point to Section 7.4 in the list of Information Needs:

  • “The three states (Georgia, Florida and Alabama) and the USACE should cooperatively review and update the Unimpaired Flows dataset for the ACF System. Where technically feasible, refinement of the Unimpaired Flows dataset should include impacts from land use change as well as water withdrawals, returns, net evaporation or other human influences.”

The Council also approved by consensus the following modifications in the list of Information Needs on p. 7-16:

  • Change bullet point #4 to read: “Evaluate the impacts of small and medium impoundments on stream flows through intercepted drainage, evaporative loss, and water quality. More information on the potential for evaporative loss is needed to assess the impacts of these impoundments.”
  • Add a new bullet to read: “Continue to improve how farm pond withdrawals are incorporated into the resource assessment models.”

Brant Keller (City of Griffin) offered comments related to flow augmentation and inter-basin transfers. In particular, he noted concern and questions about how flow augmentation might be pursued. Mr. Keller’s written comments are attached to this summary.

Ben Emanuel (American Rivers) extended a word of thanks to the Council for working through comments submitted by American Rivers.

Following a motion by Terrell Hudson and a second by Beth English, the Council approved by consensus the revised plan, as amended during this meeting and acknowledging the need for minor formatting corrections, for submittal to GAEPD by June 30, 2017.

Kristin then reviewed next steps associated with finalizing the plan and submitting it to GAEPD and opportunities for continued Council activities to support implementation and preparation for the next planning cycle. Kristin noted that the planning contractors would be preparing a fact sheet and a power point presentation to support Council members in outreach about the Council’s work. Council members acknowledged that this will be useful and suggested additional resources including PSAs from the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District and the development of a video.

Council members noted that they would like to consider a joint meeting to discuss water storage and augmentation issues. Council members also noted an interest in the following topics for discussion at upcoming meetings: groundwater/surface water interactions in the region, flow metrics, and updates on the Florida v. Georgia No. 142 case.

Council Chairman Chase thanked members for attending and for their dedicated service in completing the plan revision. The meeting was adjourned.

Council Members Attending June 21, 2017 Meeting:

  • Donald Chase, Chair
  • Dick Morrow, Vice Chair
  • Terrell Hudson
  • Buddy Leger
  • Lamar Perlis
  • Joel Wood
  • Larry Smith
  • Randall Starling
  • Michael Bowens
  • Beth English
  • Brian Upson
  • Brant Keller
  • Fred Granitz
  • Gene Brunson
  • Raines Jordan
  • Jack Holbrook​

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