'Drive-by' laws, water woes 

Stop 'drive-by legislating'


Certainly anyone who has paid attention to the health care debate has, at one time or another, wished it all to be done. As absurd as it may appear to Ms. Gunn and others, all the loud talking has prevented the even bigger headache of drive-by legislating.

Letting people debate the merits of HR 3200 has at least brought some of the more controvertial aspects of the bill into the light. Townhall meetings, critiqued by some as products of the "right-wing fringe," have been the only arenas where consituents have been able to voice displeasure. This debate might go on for months; it needs to. Lest it turn into another less-than-adequately debated law such as the stimulus or Cap and Trade.

Finding info that explains HR 3200 is not hard. Keith Hennessey (www.KeithHennessey.com) has provided a pretty thorough break down of things by sections. I encourage you to take a look.

J. Stevens


Fixing holes in Georgia's water bucket

For almost 20 years, the State of Georgia has battled Alabama and Florida in the courts for its share of Lake Lanier’s water supply. Georgia’s legal battle has already cost the taxpayers nearly $6.7 million with another $5 million spent by the Atlanta Regional Commission. The legal discord has sown distrust among the three states and now threatens to sow similar troubles here at home by pitting the water needs of metro-Atlanta against those of the rural regions of the state.

Such concerns are now magnified by the State’s stunning defeat in U.S. District Court this summer. U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers has never had legal authority to allow Georgia to use Lake Lanier as a primary domestic water source or even to store water there in preparation for drought years.

Due to the uncertain outcome of Georgia either winning a court appeal or obtaining great favor from Washington within the court-imposed deadline of three years, state leaders must move forward on a package of legislative measures in the upcoming 2010 General Assembly showing that the State is serious about solving its water woes. Since the metro area is ground zero, the State’s full effort must first focus on comprehensive water planning where it will have the greatest impact, show considerable results within three years, and be achieved with the least cost. 

As the city of Atlanta has already proven, fixing the obvious “holes in the bucket” provides instant water savings. In 2003, the city lost 20 percent of its clean water to leaks and unmetered uses. Within the past five years, its leak detection and abatement program has reduced water loss by 1 percent each year, enough to supply 244,000 Atlanta residents with water. This program, if instituted throughout the 16-county region, could potentially save anywhere from 10 to 20 percent in total water usage.

Secondly, retrofitting all outdated appliances and fixtures with water efficient models could provide an additional 35 percent savings in household consumption according to the Handbook of Water Use and Conservation. The State should initiate a pro-active program, with special emphasis on the metro region, which rewards home and business owners with tax credits upon the installation of water efficient fixtures. Along these same lines, the State should provide incentives for new development to include water efficient measures, such as designing homes and neighborhoods to capture and reuse storm water and gray water on site.

The State also needs to survey existing reservoirs within the Apalachicola Chattahoochee Flint River (ACF) Basin to determine if water resources could substantially increase if these were dredged or otherwise enlarged. Maximizing the potential of existing dams as a first step makes far better sense than pouring taxpayer dollars into new dam construction.

Old school thinking calls for building additional dams, but, while this step may become necessary at some point in the future, it is the most expensive and slowest approach to a water supply solution. According to Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division, dams can cost $4000 per 1000 gallons of capacity, while efficiency measures range from $0.46 to $250 per 1000 gallons saved or new capacity. Without trying to oversimplify the problem, it is far wiser to repair the holes in the bucket than to just pour more water into a leaky one.

By initiating this common-sense course of action, Georgia can secure a cost-effective water supply, build trust among its southern neighbors, and help prevent water disputes between different regions of the state. Good faith efforts with quick and measurable results should also help Georgia win favor from Congress for a more generous solution regarding metro-Atlanta’s water use from Lake Lanier.

Sen. Jeff Chapman (R-3rd District)




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