The role of the Altamaha Council is to prepare a Regional Water Plan, which will include resource assessments, estimates of current and future water needs, and those management practices necessary to meet the region’s needs within the capabilities of the resources.
Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) provided the Altamaha Council with the results of Water Resource Assessments that model how much water is available from the water resources on which the region relies. Assessments also estimated the capacity of the surface water resources to assimilate pollution.
In addition to the Water Resource Assessments, the Council used 10-, 20-, 30-, and 40-year water and wastewater demand forecasts for the region to 1) understand the likely changes the region will experience; and 2) identify any "gaps" that may exist between the capabilities of the resources as articulated by the Assessments and the future regional needs.
In the event "gaps" between available water and future (or current) demands were identified, the Council determined which water and land use management practices should be employed to ensure there is sufficient water and assimilative capacity to meet future needs. EPD is using computer models to test the ability of the recommended practices to close any identified "gaps."
The Altamaha water planning region borders other regions or shares surface or groundwater resources with other regions; therefore, the Altamaha Council communicated and coordinated with adjacent, upstream and/or downstream councils as well as EPD to ensure the appropriateness of the recommended management practices.
EPD and the Altamaha Council used an iterative process of recommendation and modeling, to arrive at a set of management practices to meet the Region's future needs.
On May 2, 2011, the Altamaha Council submitted an Initial Recommended Regional Water Plan to the Director of EPD, who will adopt the plan or suggest changes so that it can be adopted. Concurrent to the EPD review, there is an official public comment period that began May 9, 2011 and closes on June 23, 2011. The Altamaha Council will review and revise their Initial Recommended Water Plan based on the public review comments and EPD comments and then submit a final recommended plan by September 30, 2011.
After the Regional Plan is adopted, all EPD permits and Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA) grants and loans for water projects will be guided by the Plan.