Although people may prefer the taste of bottled water, many still wouldn't think twice before filling a glass from the sink or making a cup of coffee from tap water. The water that washes your dishes and makes ice in your freezer likely comes from underground water sources in your community. With the ongoing development in Georgia's cities and towns, how can you know if your water source is safe and clean?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers support and suggestions for communities that are interested in protecting their water sources. If you play a role in compliance for your city, you likely understand that the best way to avoid creating a hazard or contaminating a valued water source is to be proactive before beginning any development project.
You don't have to reinvent the wheel
The EPA publishes annual reports of its assessments of public water systems in every state. Your community is able to access those reports to obtain a summary of the local sources of drinking water. This is just a starting point, however, and you may also begin your own assessment by locating the water sources that may be most affected by your project and identifying any ways those sources may become contaminated as your project proceeds.
You may not even realize how other entities in your community could be impacted if the local water sources become contaminated. Hearing the input from a variety of stakeholders may improve your plans for protecting both surface and groundwater sources. Gathering as many interested parties to contribute to your plans for water protection means having more ideas and additional assistance. For example, you may wish to contact the following groups:
- The local office of the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension
- Nonprofit organizations dedicated environmental protection
- Conservation offices of the local government
- Federal agencies dedicated to environmental issues
Of course, you may also invite concerned citizens to become involved in the project since they are certainly important stakeholders in maintaining and protecting the water sources in their community. You may find that community involvement serves multiple purposes including providing citizens with ownership in the preservation of their natural resources as well as instilling trust in the community. Often, volunteer organizations are looking for such opportunities to participate in the civic good.
Since environmental concerns can be complex, another member of your team may be a legal counselor. Having someone on board who can advise you on best practices as you embark on your development project may preempt any potential problems. You may find it especially helpful to have the counsel of an attorney whose practice is devoted to protecting natural resources and assisting others who have the same goal.