Governor announces executive order to reduce state government water consumption

Thu, 10/25/2007 - 5:40pm
By: The Citizen

WEST POINT, Ga. (Oct. 24, 2007) — Atop closed boat ramps on the shores of West Point Lake, Governor Sonny Perdue called for state agencies to lead by example and reduce water consumption by 10 to 15 percent at state owned facilities.

Through an executive order Governor Perdue also directed the Department of Natural Resources to develop a water conservation implementation plan including benchmarks, goals and practices to achieve demonstrable water conservation.

“The remains of West Point Lake are a stunning reminder that this drought is devastating not only metro Atlanta, but the entire state of Georgia,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “While the entire state of Georgia is feeling the pain of this historic drought, Georgia state government will lead by example in reducing all nonessential water use. We are further putting pressure on federal agencies by illustrating that Georgia is taking every possible step to conserve water.”

Governor Perdue’s executive order directs agency heads to develop plans to conserve water resources and save taxpayer dollars by using less water and using water more wisely. The order bans washing the state fleet vehicles, installing new landscaping at state facilities or power washing to clean state facilities. The order also directs agency heads to have facilities inspected for plumbing leaks and to optimize the recovery and utilization of condensate, where possible.

Governor Perdue’s executive order is the latest step taken to help Georgians through the worst drought in the state’s history. The northern third of Georgia is under Level 4 drought restrictions, or a complete outdoor watering ban. Georgia’s major federal reservoirs, such as West Point Lake and Lake Lanier, continue to dwindle as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sends billions of gallons of water downstream every day despite the impact it will have on Georgia’s water supply and its citizens.

Yesterday, Governor Sonny Perdue directed the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) to modify current surface drinking water and groundwater withdrawal permits to achieve a 10 percent reduction in withdrawals when compared to last winter. The permit modifications apply to all non-farm permit holders in the 61 counties covered by the Level 4 drought designation.

On Saturday, October 20, Governor Perdue signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency in 85 counties in Georgia due to the historic drought. Governor Perdue also sent a letter to President Bush outlining steps that the state has taken to minimize the impact of the drought, and emphasizing the increasingly severe threat to Georgia businesses, industry, economic stability and the health and safety of Georgia citizens. He requested that President Bush temporarily exempt the state of Georgia from the Endangered Species Act to reduce the flows from Georgia reservoirs and preserve Georgia’s precious water resources.

On Friday, October 19, Governor Perdue filed a motion for preliminary injunction in the Middle District of Florida Federal Court requiring the Army Corps of Engineers to restrict water flows from Lake Lanier and Georgia’s federal reservoirs.

Text of the Executive Order is below:

WHEREAS: The government of the State of Georgia should lead by example in adopting, implementing and promoting water conservation practices; and

WHEREAS: The State of Georgia is currently developing a Statewide Water Plan to help ensure that Georgia’s use of water is sustainable and protects water quality; and

WHEREAS: The State of Georgia is a large business enterprise and a substantial consumer of water, and water expenses represent a substantial operating cost for State Government; and

WHEREAS: The State of Georgia is currently experiencing record low rainfall and many of Georgia’s rivers, streams and reservoirs are at the lowest levels ever recorded, including the composite storage of the entire Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint system, which is down to less than 45% capacity; and

WHEREAS: The State of Georgia recognizes its obligation to conserve water under these exceptional drought conditions by imposing the highest level of restrictions on water use in the state’s history; and

WHEREAS: Many of Georgia’s communities and industries have gone beyond the regional ban on outdoor watering by limiting other water uses and implementing even more rigorous conservation measures; and

WHEREAS: The Southeast Climatologist Consortium has forecast an unusually mild cool season with little rain; and

WHEREAS: The Army Corps of Engineers has not modified the Interim Operating Plan to adjust for this extreme drought; and

WHEREAS: Increased water conservation efforts by the agencies and departments of the State of Georgia will result in economic and environmental benefits to the residents of Georgia, including:
· Reducing water consumption from Georgia’s water resources
· Reducing dollars spent on water production and utility costs
· Extending the life of existing water supplies
· Protecting the environment, including river flows and aquifer levels and the species dependant on them
· Demonstrating responsible use of shared waters

ORDERED: The Department of Natural Resources, in cooperation with other state agencies, professional associations and volunteers, shall develop a water conservation implementation plan that outlines water conservation goals, benchmarks and practices for Georgia state facilities, and water conservation goals, benchmarks and practices for Georgia’s diverse water use sectors, citizens and businesses.
ORDERED: That state facilities will immediately execute the following water conservation practices to reduce nonessential water use, water waste and water loss:
· Conduct periodic checks of facility restrooms, boiler rooms, etc., to ensure appliances are working at maximum efficiency;
· Comply with the current outdoor water schedule or the outdoor water use ban. In areas operating under a Level 2 Drought Declaration, water use is prohibited between the hours of 10:00am and 4:00pm;
· Discontinue installation of all new landscaping on state facilities;
· Optimize recovery and use of condensate, where possible;
· Discontinue washing the state fleet except in cases that would compromise driver safety; and
· Limit the use of water used in cleaning state facilities when possible including a complete ban on power washing.
· Any other water conservation practice that limits the State of Georgia’s nonessential water use, water waste, and water loss.
ORDERED: That the Department of Natural Resources shall prepare and coordinate an information campaign and work with state agencies to encourage state employees to conserve water in and around the workplace and home.

This 24th day of October, 2007.


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