By Curt Yeomans
The Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District is pushing plans for water management it hopes will help address forecasts for a population growth of more than 2 million people across the Atlanta area over the next 26 years.
The group has several recommendations, ranging from public education programs to more conservative water systems in government buildings.
"The state, as a whole, is going to have to make aggressive water conservation plans to meet future demands," said Matthew Harper, a senior principal planner with the water group. "I don't think we really have an option to not conserve water. Water conservation is one of the cheapest ways to find new sources of water."
The district, which is composed of 15 counties in metropolitan Atlanta, held the first of three public hearings on new plans for water supply and conservation, long-term wastewater management, and watershed management Monday at the Clayton County Water Authority in Jonesboro. The group's plans look at the area's water needs through 2035.
According to the plan for water supply and conservation, the metropolitan Atlanta area's average daily demand will increase by roughly 400 million gallons, to 1.2 billion gallons, over the next 26 years.
Locally, Clayton County's average water demand in 2035 will be 40 million gallons per day. This is an increase of 14 million gallons from the average daily demand in 2006. The planning district's projections show the county has "adequate" water sources to meet the increased demands, but the county's three water treatment plants will need to be expanded, according to the plan.
Henry County will see a similar increase in demand between now and 2035. The plan includes estimates that Henry County's average water demand will be 43 million gallons per day 26 years from now. That is an increase of 19 million gallons from the county's average demand in 2006.
The planning district recommends expanding the Towaliga and Tussahaw water treatment plants in Henry County to meet the increased demand.
If the district's recommendations are implemented, the area would conserve 200 million gallons of water per day. Those recommendations include installing low-flow urinals in government buildings and requiring car washes to recycle water.
The planning district's long-term wastewater management plan calls for construction of 20 new wastewater treatment facilities, and the expansion of 49 more between now and 2035. This corresponds with an expected increase of more than 300 million gallons of wastewater flowing through treatment systems on a monthly basis.
The district anticipates a maximum monthly flow of 993 million gallons of wastewater in 2035.
Harper said the watershed management plan calls for a "complete overhaul" of watershed management to benefit local governments.
The plan calls for the establishment of a program which addresses local planning programs; development review oversight actions; asset management activities; pollution prevention programs; watershed conditions assessment and monitoring, and activities targeting education and public awareness.
"It was re-organized and enhanced to make it easier for local governments to implement and use the plan as a resource," Harper said.
The Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District will hold two more public meetings on the plans. The first of those meetings will be today from 4-7 p.m. at the Cobb County Water System office at 660 South Cobb Dr., Marietta. The second meeting will be held Wednesday from 9 a.m. to noon at the Loudermilk Center for Regional Community, 40 Courtland St., in Atlanta.
The planning district's governing board will vote on adopting the plans in late spring, according to documents distributed at the public hearing in Jonesboro.
All three plans can be found on www.northgeorgiawater.org, the planning district's Web site.