As a state of over 9 million people, Georgia must be assured of adequate water resources for our homes, businesses, and industries.
Having recently emerged from a drought of historic proportions in longevity and severity, we are well-aware that water is not to be taken for granted.
We are also aware that the negative impact of the drought was intensified by government failure to plan for adequate water supplies when there is a serious lack of rain.
The downside is even more challenging given the federal court decision drastically restricting Metro Atlanta's access to water from Lake Lanier.
The importance and urgency of our water resource problem make it clear that we must find a solution to this challenge now, not as a short-term fix but as an answer that will endure for decades to come.
With that said, it is clear that a lasting solution for our water supply problem will require a water resource management plan that will combine conservation and supply projects.
I begin, and I stress -- begin, with conservation because it is something that all of us can do every day, beginning today. Every business, industry, and government entity in Georgia can practice water conservation. To promote water conservation, I will propose a series of practical steps and incentives for homeowners and businesses that will lessen the demand for water, improve the efficiency of its use, and reduce losses and waste.
To encourage citizens and businesses to alter established use patterns, a public information campaign will be implemented to point out opportunities to reduce water use, outline the benefits of water conservation, and publicize the conservation measures being recommended.
The state also needs to survey existing reservoirs to determine if water resources could substantially increase if these reservoirs were dredged or otherwise enlarged. Common sense tells us that maximizing the potential of existing reservoirs should precede the development of new water sources, particularly in view of the massive costs associated with the construction of new dams. According to Georgia's Environmental Protection Division, new reservoirs can cost up to $4,000 per 1,000 gallons of capacity, 16 times more than the cost of conservation measures.
As Governor, I will bring together the best minds and experienced professionals, and invite significant citizen participation, to help develop and implement a broad-based, cost-effective plan to satisfy Georgia's water needs, not only for today but for many years to come.