By Joel Hall
The Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District -- the regional body responsible for setting water authority policy in 15 metro counties and more than 90 cities -- will host a public hearing on its long-term water plans in Morrow on Monday.
During the meeting, citizens of the Southern Crescent will have a chance to voice their concerns about the future of the region's water supply.
The hearing will take place at the Clayton County Water Authority (CCWA) Headquarters, located at 1600 Battle Creek Road. It will be the first of three, scheduled, public hearings: one to take place in Marietta on Tuesday, and another in Atlanta on Wednesday.
Grace Trimble, communications coordinator for the water planning district, said the organization was established in 2001 to developed water-resource-management plans for the region through 2035.
The district group will use the public input from the meetings to update plans for water supply and conservation, long-term wastewater management, and watershed management, which were originally adopted in 2003, she said.
"Water conservation has to become a way of life here," said Trimble. "We have to be mindful of how we use water, whether it is raining or dry. It doesn't mean a lot of sacrifice, it just means being aware of your water use, and not wasting it.
"Before the drought hit, conservation was a big part of our plans," she continued. "By law, every five years, we are required to update the plans. Part of this [meeting] is so that we can present the plans to the public, so they can express any concerns."
The plans include hundreds of pages of water-saving measures to which water authorities, county governments, and municipalities must adhere.
In the 2003 plans, water authorities were asked to adopt programs to locate and fix leaks within their distribution systems, establish tier billing structures to discourage excess water use by customers, and create incentive programs to encourage people to replace old toilets with newer, more efficient models.
Trimble said a draft of the 2008 plans include suggestions of more stringent water saving measures for counties and municipalities, including the requiring of high-efficiency toilets and urinals in all government buildings, and making it mandatory for all new car washes to be equipped to recycle water, before receiving a permit.
Mike Thomas, CCWA general manager, said the meeting will be an educational experience for citizens about water.
"The district was created to make sure the area has an adequate water supply," Thomas said. "There are so many competing governments fighting for the same resources. We're excited we're hosting [the meeting], because it gives people in our community a chance to learn more about the requirements of the water utilities, and why their bills are the way they are."
Citizens also can view, and express their opinions about, the 2008 metro water planning district's plans by visiting www.northgeorgiawater.org.