Meeting Summary: Coosa-North Georgia Council November 1, 2017

To: Coosa-North Georgia (CNG) Water Planning Council

From: Christine Voudy, GA EPD; Brian Skeens, CH2M HILL

Subject: Meeting Summary: Joint CNG Water Planning Council and North Georgia Water Resources Partnership Joint Meeting /Water Plan Implementation

Welcome and Introductions

Chairman David Ashburn welcomed the group to the meeting. Time was taken to provide a recap of the recently completed water planning process and to briefly review the meeting agenda. No changes or additions were recommended to the last Council meeting’s minutes, and they were approved unanimously by the Council members.

Brian Skeens reviewed the meeting objectives:

  • Provide updates on seed grants and ongoing studies.
  • Review the adopted Regional Water Plan, Management Practices, and next steps.
  • Discuss a project looking at improvements to the water planning process.

Seed Grant Updates and Upcoming Opportunities

Brooke Anderson with the North Georgia Water Resources Partnership (Partnership) addressed the Council and Partnership regarding former and ongoing seed grant projects. He stated that the Partnership may not submit a seed grant application for SFY 2018.

  • The Partnership has completed several studies through seed grant funding, including:
    • Redundancy and Emergency Interconnectivity Study – April 2015
    • Water Transmission Grid Study – April 2015
    • Nutrient Trading Feasibility Study – August 2013
    • Agricultural Water Use Study – June 2015
  • The second phase of the Redundancy and Emergency Interconnectivity study is currently underway. Michelle Vincent of Jacobs Engineering provided updates during the meeting.
  • The Soque River Study is currently under year 2 of its seed grant funding. Duncan Hughes of the Soque River Watershed Association provided updates during the meeting.
  • The Partnership recently completed guidance documents for storm water management, utility master planning, asset management, and GIS mapping. These resources are available on the Partnership website at http://www.ngawater.org/blog/index.php/guidance-materials/.
  • The Nutrient Trading Feasibility Study is currently underway. The Partnership is working with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA EPD) to develop procedures and rules for alternative discharge permitting involving nutrient trading.

Soque River Study

Duncan Hughes of the Soque River Watershed Association presented on the Soque River Study, funded by a seed grant acquired by the Council/Partnership. This study intends to investigate the water quality of the Soque River and its tributaries and to identify patterns or relationships between land use and water quality.

  • Water sampling was performed in the Soque River and several of its tributaries.
  • Nutrient loading originating from non-point sources (NPS) was one focus of the study.
  • Results suggested some relationship between land use type and nutrient loading
  • Recommendations for water quality improvement included implementation of agricultural and urban storm water BMPs, NPDES monitoring and permitting, NPS work groups with community stakeholders, and load reductions.

Council member Mike Berg raised questions regarding how stream buffers and urban storm water practices could potentially affect homeowners or developers. Another Council member asked if guidance was available for homeowners with stream bank erosion issues on their property. Mr. Hughes replied to both questions, highlighting the need to balance storm water BMPs and encouraging development in local communities. Mr. Hughes also suggested Backyard Stream Repair resources for property owners provided by NC State University, which are available at the following website: https://www.bae.ncsu.edu/workshops-conferences/bsr/

Redundancy and Emergency Interconnectivity Study Update

Michelle Vincent of Jacobs Engineering provided updates for the seed grant study, Redundancy and Emergency Interconnectivity. In phase 2, the scope of the study was expanded from the original pilot study performed for the Chatsworth, Dalton, Rome, and Calhoun water systems to all of the remaining systems in the CNG region. Using data provided the water systems, the study provides proposed
interconnections for systems with forecasted emergency scenario deficits, a list of proposed conceptual projects for these potential interconnections, and planning level cost estimates.

Council member Mike Berg asked if the study account for drought as an emergency scenario in future studies. Ms. Vincent replied to this question, clarifying that the current study does not account for drought, but future iterations could potentially incorporate this information. Chairman Ashburn added to Ms. Vincent’s clarification, noting that additional seed grant funding would be required to include drought as an emergency scenario.

Lake Lanier Draft TMDL Update

Brian Skeens of CH2M provided an outline of the draft Lake Lanier TMDL. As it currently stands, the draft TMDL identifies 4 areas for reductions, which includes point sources, urban non-point sources, agricultural non-point sources, and failing septic tanks. The draft TMDL does allow nutrient trading as an option for permittees to meet the required loading reductions. Mr. Skeens noted that the loading reductions directly affect permit holders in the CNG region. Brooke Anderson added that GA EPD has sent a letter to permit holders that currently exceed the newly proposed nutrient discharge limits.

Council member Brooke Anderson asked how the reductions in the draft TMDL will be enforced, particularly with respect to non-point sources. Mr. Skeens, of CH2M, and Christine Voudy, of Georgia EPD, replied to this question, clarifying that the draft TMDL will affect discharge permits for point sources through the permit process, but there is no direct enforcement for non-point sources. They further added that reductions in non-point sources would need to be achieved through voluntary efforts or partnerships.

Review of Adopted Regional Plan and Next Steps

Brian Skeens of CH2M reviewed the adopted Regional Water Plan with the attending Council members. He noted that PowerPoint slides will be sent to the Council. The intent is for Council members to present the material to their local utility providers, city council, or board of commissioners. A USB drive with the presentation slides will be mailed to all Council members at the address on file.

Review of Management Practices and Recommendations

Craig Hensley of CH2M provided a review of the management practices adopted by the CNG Council through the Regional Water Plan. He also led the Council members through a brainstorming session to develop a list of short term actions and responsible parties for implementing the practices. The action items included:

  • Council members presenting a summary of the Regional Water Plan to their local utility providers or city councils to promote awareness of the Plan.
  • CH2M is to draft a letter from the CNG Council Chair to local government officials regarding the Plan. The Council also suggested contacting utility directors, utility maintenance directors, county administrators, and city administrators.
  • CH2M is to draft a letter from CNG Council members to their state legislators regarding the plan.
  • Add educational resources to the Council website when it becomes available, and migrate guidance documents from the Partnership website to the Council website.

Other topics of discussion during the session included:

  • There was discussion among Council members about adding enforcement to the Plan. It was noted that GA EPD will take the Plan into consideration when issuing its permits.
  • There was discussion around how the management practices support other incentives, like WaterFirst.
  • Brooke Anderson suggested holding a Regional Water Planning Council conclave with legislators during the upcoming 2018 session or partnering with another organization’s event.
  • Ethan Calhoun of the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission shared how the comprehensive plans include Regional Plan management practices. He also noted that the Department of Community Affairs has asked for more specific information on the projects listed in the comprehensive plans that contribute to the management practices.
  • Kevin McAuliff of the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission is thinking about preparing an application for the upcoming seed grants. Mr. McAuliff mentioned that he would contact the Council for their endorsement if those plans move forward.

Discussion on Improvements to the Planning Process

Christine Voudy of Georgia EPD noted that the planning contractors are working to prepare recommendations regarding improvements to the water planning process for EPD. Ms. Voudy passed out Council member evaluation surveys regarding improvements to the water planning process for those who either did not receive an email survey or who had not yet had a chance to respond to the survey. Ms. Voudy said that Council chairs across the state were also being interviewed by phone about the planning process, and the results of the surveys will be taken into account in the recommendations to EPD for future planning cycles.

Comments from Non-Council Members, Visitors, or the General Public

During the public comment period, Debbie Gordon from USGS made the council aware of USGS databases that are available for use, including groundwater, stream water quality, and others. She also expressed interest in talking with Council members regarding collecting data and potential collaboration.

Wrap Up / Council Meeting Evaluation

Brian Skeens said that the next CNG Council meeting would be held in late winter or spring of 2018.

Brooke Anderson notified the Council that plans are underway for the annual NGWRP meeting at the Tellus Museum in Cartersville, GA. The meeting will be held in April and is typically a joint meeting with the CNG Council.

Chairman Ashburn reminded members to complete the feedback survey and adjourned the meeting.

Coosa – North Georgia Water Planning Council, November 1, 2017

Council Members Present

  1. David Ashburn (NGWRP)
  2. Brooke Anderson (NGWRP)
  3. Donald Anderson
  4. Mike Berg
  5. Greg Bowman
  6. Keith Coffey
  7. Jim Conley
  8. Jerry Crawford
  9. Haynes Johnson
  10. Corey Babb for Anne Kaiser
  11. Larry Lykins
  12. Lamar Paris

Elected Officials

None in attendence

North Georgia Water Resources Partnership (NGWRP)

  1. Gary McVey
  2. Robbie Irvin
  3. Mark Buckner
  4. Sean Phipps
  5. Mike Hackett

Partnering & Other State Agencies

  1. Ethan Calhoun/Northwest Georgia Regional Commission
  2. Kevin McAuliff/Northwest Georgia Regional Commission
  3. Gary McVey/Gilmer County Water & Sewer Authority
  4. Kees deVente/Gilmer County High School
  5. Robbie Irvin/Dawson County
  6. Mark Buckner/Dalton Utilities
  7. Michelle Vincent/Jacobs Engineering
  8. Duncan Hughes/Soque River Watershed Association
  9. Ritchie Mullen/GA Forestry
  10. Rusty Logan/Gilmer County High School
  11. Sean Phipps/Lumpkin County Water & Sewer Authority
  12. Kathy Webb/CTI Engineers
  13. Julianne Meadows/ Northwest Georgia Regional Commission
  14. Greg Cherry/USGS
  15. Jennifer Pahl/Corblu Ecology Group
  16. Debbie Gordon/USGS
  17. Mike Hackett/Rome Water & Sewer
  18. Joe Rothwell/Georgia Mountains Regional Commission
  19. Catherine Fox/Fox Environmental
  20. Christine McKay/US EPA

GA Environmental Protection Division

  1. Jennifer Welte, EPD Project Manager
  2. Gigi Steele, EPD Project Manager
  3. Christine Voudy, EPD Council Lead

CH2M HILL

  1. Brian Skeens
  2. Craig Hensley

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