News reports of a drought through large swaths of the country have, so far, mostly focused on crops and food prices.
For many in Georgia, it highlights a bigger, ongoing concern -- the need for more sources of water.
Earlier this month, the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) announced it had allocated about $100 million toward several projects to boost Georgia"s home-grown water supply. During his successful campaign for governor in 2010, Nathan Deal spoke frequently about his plans to increase the state"s water storage capacity. We wondered if Deal had met his campaign promise with the recent decision.
Deal campaigned on a five-point plan that included maximizing the use of existing water infrastructure and creating additional storage capacity.
"We remain one of the fastest-growing states, and the demands for water, energy and waste disposal will grow with our state,” the Deal campaign wrote in a Sept. 23, 2010, press release. "Being prepared for the future begins now and requires us to act responsibly to provide resources now while we protect them for future generations of Georgians.”
For years, Georgia has been deep in what"s been called "water wars” with Alabama and Florida over water resources. Lake Lanier, which supplies metro Atlanta with water, has long been the catalyst for lawsuits from neighboring states over water policy.
In January 2011, Deal directed GEFA to develop and launch the Governor"s Water Supply Program. The program"s purpose is to develop new sources of water supply adequate to meet future water demand forecasts.
In his August announcement, eight projects received funding out of 15 submitted for consideration, mostly in North Georgia, for loans and grants to plan, permit or build reservoirs or wells. It"s part of Deal"s four-year plan to allocate about $300 million toward such projects. A second round of funding is expected in 2013, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The eight projects approved for loans or grants in August included a new reservoir in Paulding County, improving an existing reservoir in the city of Cornelia and a new water supply tower in the city of Vienna.
Some environmental groups have not been enthusiastic about the funding. For example, the Washington-based American Rivers, which works to help restore and protect the nation's rivers and streams, told the AJC that more money will be needed to complete construction and get operations up and running.
Officials in some areas that received the state loans say the money will help speed up the completion of projects that would take much longer without it.
These projects fit in with the governor"s goal of enhancing water storage capacity. We rate this as a campaign Promise Kept.