Meeting Summary: Coosa-North Georgia Council May 18, 2022
To: Coosa-North Georgia (CNG) Regional Water Planning Council
From: Christine Voudy, GA EPD
Paula Feldman, Freese and Nichols
Andrea Druhot, Freese and Nichols
Subject: Meeting Summary: CNG Regional Water Planning Council Meeting
Date: May 18, 2022
Welcome and Introductions
Brooke Anderson, CNG Chairman, welcomed the group, made introductions and invited everyone in the room to introduce themselves.
Brooke provided an overview of the process for planning and the agenda topics:
- Council Business
- Water Quality Resource Assessment (RA) Updates
- Surface Water RA Updates
- Metro Water District Update
- Draft Regional Water Plan – Section Updates
- Homework Feedback
- Management Practice Review
- Council members approved the February 2022 meeting minutes.
- Council members approved the May 18th meeting agenda.
Water Quality Resource Assessment Updates (Jennifer Welte, Assistant Watershed Protection Branch Chief, Regulatory Program Director, GA EPD)
Jennifer Welte presented an update on the Water Quality Resource Assessment results. The dissolved oxygen results compare current (2019 permit limits) and future (2060 assumed permit limits) conditions under high temperatures and low flows in the DOSAG model. The evaluation compares dissolved oxygen levels to the water quality standards. The results will be documented in Sections 3 and 5 of the Plan. More stream segments and smaller discharge facilities have been added since the last Plan update.
Jennifer highlighted the following changes in the dissolved oxygen results:
- Lookout Creek conditions have improved since prior Plan, but West Chickamauga Creek conditions have worsened. This is due to more – and smaller – discharge facilities being incorporated into the modeling than was done in the prior round.
- South Chickamauga Creek modeling is new (no results for this river in the prior round of planning).
- There are some new, but small, red and yellow segments in Fannin and Towns Counties.
- Nottely River, and the Butternut Creek tributary in Blairsville, are newly modeled and show good conditions.
- There have been improvements in Coahulla Creek/Whitfield Co., Holly Creek/Murray Co., and Salacoa Creek/Gordon Co. (previously red segments are now gone).
- Improvements in most of the Etowah River mainstem segments (now all blue), but some change (incl. a red segment) in Dawson Co.
- The red segment in Long Swamp Creek in Pickens Co. is also new (was yellow).
- There were improvements in previously red segments of the Chattooga River/Chattooga Co. and Big Cedar Creek/Polk Co.
- There was some worsening in current conditions in Euharlee Creek/Polk Co. (previously green vs. yellow/orange).
- Salacoa Creek in Gordon Co. has now been modeled.
- Alpine Creek conditions have improved (was red and orange), and the lower portion of the Chattooga River was previously red.
Jennifer presented the lake modeling results for measured chlorophyll a in Carters Lake, Lake Allatoona, and Lake Lanier, and phosphorus at Lake Weiss.
Question: If you have a private entity or development that wants to develop a wastewater treatment plant with direct discharge in a community far from existing sewer – Is EPD allowing wet weather discharges under TMDL? How do you manage large new developments without a discharge budget?
- Jennifer: Nutrient trading might be a future option. Land application may be the only existing option. I will review with Liz Booth and confirm options for dealing with that type of growth in the Plan.
Surface Water Resource Assessment Overview (Dr. Wei Zeng, Water Supply Program Manager, GA EPD)
Jennifer Welte presented an overview of the Surface Water Resource Assessment and introduced Dr. Wei Zeng who joined this segment of the meeting virtually. The assessment uses a Basin Environmental Assessment Model (BEAM) and has been significantly updated since the 2017 Plan with more nodes, such as discharges, reservoirs, USGS gages, agricultural use, and withdrawals.
The council watched a pre-recorded video of Wei, who presented example model results from the baseline scenario for water supply challenges and wastewater assimilation challenges from the Middle Ocmulgee Regional Water Council.
Water supply challenges assess when streams’ flow rates are below permitted minimum instream flow.
The modeled withdrawal and discharge are monthly averages from 2010 to 2018, a generally drier condition.
The wastewater assimilation challenges use NPDES permits and compare to the threshold 7Q10 flow (7 day average flow with 10 year return period). In the example, the years 2011 and 2012 reflected lengthy periods where the outflow was lower than the threshold, representing wastewater assimilation challenges.
The model covers an extensive simulation period and can be adapted to other performance metrics. Wei provided examples of additional performance metrics, including boating metric and fish habitat metrics for the Middle Ocmulgee region. The baseline scenario will be compared to the future scenario to assess if conditions worsen or improve.
Following the video presentation, Wei joined the meeting virtually and opened the floor to questions.
Question: When are droughts of records reviewed during permit renewals and how is the 7Q10 evaluated regarding the wastewater discharge process?
- Wei: Adding the record / hydrologic conditions helps us be informed. As far as thresholds in existing withdrawal and discharge permits, we do not see the need or justification in permits to review the new thresholds. Renewing without modification will maintain the existing permit threshold. If additional withdrawals are requested, then a safe yield analysis would be needed to understand your reservoir capability.
- Jennifer Welte/Christine Voudy: If you seek a modification to an existing permit, EPD would treat the additional request as a tier above the existing permit.
Question: Please clarify why the number on permit may not be the same as what is in the model.
- Wei provided an example where the front page permit limitation is 10 MGD, as determined by previous safe yield, but a later, information-only page shares that 8 MGD is the updated safe yield based on current hydrologics. EPD wants permittee holders to understand and be prepared for 8 MGD condition. Need must be justified for future additional withdrawals and if an additional withdrawal is requested from the reservoir, the application would need to show that improvements or adjustments have been made to the reservoir to improve the safe yield value.
Question: Did EPD look at recreation or commercial and impact / benefits to the economy?
- Wei: Recreational paddling was primarily considered. In the example of Middle Ocmulgee, a seed grant was used to gather data from stakeholders. In the Upper Flint, a working group led by American Rivers focused on ecological considerations and flows at Carsons on the Flint River.
Chairman Brooke Anderson asked for a motion to approve the two water supply and wastewater assimilation metrics (water supply challenges and wastewater assimilation challenges) so that the council may receive regional results. The motion was summoned, seconded, discussed, and approved. The council discussed adding other performance metrics, such as the boating and fish habitat examples, during the next plan update due to lack of time for a study to be completed for the current Plan update.
Metro District Update (Jennifer Welte, Assistant Watershed Protection Branch Chief, Regulatory Program Director, GA EPD)
Jennifer provided an update of the Metro District’s Plan Updates and Plan changes. She noted that the information in Appendix B relates to facilities and would be good for the Council to review. An updated draft will be released for public input in August. The planning horizon was shortened to 2040.
Draft Regional Water Plan – Section Updates (Paula Feldman, Council Support Lead, FNI)
Paula provided a high-level overview of the updates made to Sections 1, 2, and 4. She noted that EPD is reviewing Section 4 and that Sections 1 and 2 were sent to the council prior to the meeting. Section 4 will look different than the 2017 Plan due to changes in the forecasting methodology.
Question: Where did the population forecasting come from? Floyd County’s numbers are decreasing, which is surprising.
- Paula clarified that the Office of Planning and Budget (OPB) with support from the Carl Vinson Institute at UGA develops the numbers.
- Chairman Anderson: In the original Plan development, the council passed a resolution expressing displeasure in the population forecasting. The council is not bound to the population numbers and forecasts but is bound to the management practices.
- Ms. Voudy shared that EPD permits by the reality of the day and by need, although the OPB projections are referenced. The 2060 values will go through many future iterations and the formula changes based on the snapshot in time when the values are developed.
Question: When is industrial water demand included in the municipal category instead of industrial category?
- Andrea Druhot, FNI: The larger industrial customers will be included in the industrial category. A spreadsheet is available with the specific list for review.
Homework Feedback (Paula Feldman, FNI)
Paula asked if any council members received feedback from utility directors in their area. Several council members met with utility directors but did not receive suggestions for changes. Allison Waters met with Floyd County and the River Keeper and received a question about considering non-metered agricultural water demand pulled from the river in the future.
Management Practices (Paula Feldman, FNI)
Paula reviewed the existing management practices in four categories: water conservation, water supply management, wastewater management, and water quality. The council was asked to consider any practices to add, remove, or modify. Key takeaways from the discussion included focusing on practices within council control and impact and excluding practices already covered by regulations or EPD rules.
A subcommittee for each of the four categories will meet three times over the summer to refine the management practices, with the first two sessions open to Council members and stakeholders and the last session limited to Council members only. Council members were asked to pick one or more subcommittees. Meeting dates are June 29, July 27, and August 31st.
Comments from Non-Council Members, Visitors, or the General Public
No public comments.
Next Steps and Wrap Up
Brooke reminded the council to attend the three subcommittee meetings over the summer and adjourned the meeting.
Council Members Present:
- Brooke Anderson, Chairman
- Mike Berg
- Rebecca Bolden Mason
- Eddie Cantrell
- Larry Chapman
- Keith Ethridge
- Robert Goff
- Terry Goodger
- Joel Hanner
- Haynes Johnson
- Gary McVey
- Alex Sullivan
- Allison Watters
- Donald Anderson
Partnering & Other State Agencies
- Ritchie Mullen, Georgia Forestry Commission
- Josh Davis, City of Jasper
- Marty Boyd, Carter and Sloope/Cornelia
GA Environmental Protection Division
- Christine Voudy, GA EPD Council Liaison
- Jennifer Welte, GA EPD, Assistant Watershed Protection Branch Chief, Regulatory Program Manager
- Dr. Wei Zeng (virtual), GA EPD, Water Supply Program Manager
Freese and Nichols (Planning Contractors)
- Paula Feldman
- Andrea Druhot
- Shauntelle Hamlett