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Current legislative proposals could impact clean water availability in Georgia

| Feb 16, 2016 | Environmental Law |

In our last post, we spoke a bit about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, the consequences of which have not entirely played out.  In view of the events in Flint, there is greater awareness of the threat of water contamination and the reality that governments do not always act in the best interests of citizens when it comes to exposure to toxins.

In a recent article, the Georgia River Network highlighted some of the current legislative efforts pertaining to clean water. One of the measures, which is supported by the network, seeks to replace confusing language in the Erosion and Sedimentation Act regarding the measurement of stream buffers, which are required under the law. The bill proposes that the measurement should be made according to the “ordinary high water mark” of streams.

Another bill supported by the network would: make the management of aquifer resources a public matter; affirm the right of property owners to access clean water from resources on their land; and require the state to establish rules to protect groundwater resources.

Another current bill to which the network has expressed opposition would require that only licensed engineers be allowed to review plans for large developments. The bill would also cut down the time allowed for application and review of these plans from 45 to 14 days. The problem, according to the network, is that the authorities responsible for reviewing these plans usually do not have the ability to staff licensed engineers, and reducing the time for development plans to be reviewed will prevent thorough consideration of plans, which could have negative environmental ramifications.

It remains to be seen how lawmakers will deal with these proposals, but the measures are certainly a reminder of the importance of clean water and the role of legislative action in assuring the integrity of water resources.

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