A ready supply of clean water is essential to grow and sustain communities, industry, and agriculture. In addition to the need to ensure and protect adequate water supplies for human activities, it is necessary to protect instream flows and groundwater reserves to preserve the environmental services, such as wasteload assimilation, as well as support environmentally based economic activities such as fishing and boating. Economic development is dependent on the availability of water, and protecting and wisely using the limited supplies in the state is important for future growth.
Managing stormwater is currently one of the most complex engineering, planning, and regulatory issues affecting local development. Stormwater can diminish water quality in lakes and streams by picking up pollutants from the ground and transporting them into nearby water bodies. A heavy rainfall can lead to surges of water downstream causing flooding, damage to infrastructure, and erosion problems. Managing stormwater through a combination of infrastructure and planning will improve both environmental quality and reduce flooding risks and costs.
Water conservation is the reduction of water loss, waste, or use through specific measures or efficiency improvements. It is typically the most cost effective means of expanding existing water supplies without new infrastructure. Water reuse is achieved through purifying wastewater for beneficial, nonpotable uses such as irrigation. Promoting activities such as rainwater harvesting, native and drought-tolerant landscaping, low-flow water fixtures, and other best management practices are an essential part of planning for Georgia’s future water supply.
The 2004 Comprehensive State-wide Water Management Planning Act outlined a vision for water resource management in the state: "Georgia manages water resources in a sustainable manner to support the state’s economy, to protect public health and natural systems, and to enhance the quality of life for all citizens" The Act also identified and charged each of the ten water planning regions with developing plans that provided management practices to ensure water quantity and quality.
Protecting Georgia’s natural resources and ensuring adequate water supplies is a priority at all levels of government. Numerous federal and state programs provide financial support for water quality and quantity related projects. Leveraging these resources to advance water related priorities is essential to Georgia’s future growth and development. Sound planning ensures wise investments of these limited financial resources in infrastructure and best management practices to conserve and protect water resources.
Ensuring adequate capacity for wastewater treatment and disposal is essential for economic development and environmental protection. Wastewater treatment practices are generally very effective, but many communities outgrow the capacity of their treatment systems and exceed the ability of the receiving waters to assimilate the discharges of those systems. Limits on wastewater discharge can limit development. However, careful planning and sound investment can ensure that wastewater capacity needs and water quality standards are achieved.