The Economic Importance of Water Conservation in Coastal Georgia
AUTHOR: David Kyler
NOTE: Although most of the water in power production is returned to
rivers after being used for cooling, much is lost to steam - a minimum
of around 20% of all water used in Georgia literally goes up in smoke
every day. Further, desalination is very energy intensive. This means
that desalination itself consumes much more freshwater than it makes, so
at this stage it is not a practical alternative and would compound air
pollution problems in the process.
Surface water, ground water, and wetlands are interconnected resources
that are vital to our coastal ecosystems and jobs. These water
resources are already polluted and over-exploited. We need to get
smarter about water management in coastal Georgia - sooner rather than
later. This makes good sense for both our environment and economy.
Steps needed include:
(1) Adopting and enforcing an aggressive water conservation policy by
requiring applicants to achieve greater water-use efficiency by
implementing conservation plans, and
(2) Achieving better non-point pollution control through selection and
design of building sites, and retaining more natural vegetation.*
*Conservation plans are adopted in the 24 counties that use the Floridan
Aquifer, but EPD does not refer to them in making permitting decisions.
We must choose economic development options that are compatible with our
natural environment and the proven, traditional nature-based business
sector - having a growth potential beyond most every other alternative
while preserving our quality of life within the sustainable capacity of
natural systems. To ensure that this happens we should
(3) Adopt criteria for investing state loans and grants for job creation
in ways that are environmentally responsible as indicated by water
use, water protection, and sustainability.
The Value of Nature-Based
Business in Coastal Georgia
- Recreational fishing in coastal Georgia generated at least $335
Million in business activity during 2000.
- If this region reflects
the national average (nature-based tourism averaging one-quarter of
total tourism), at least $450 Million a year in our tourism business
activity is derived from natural resources.
- Commercial fishing,
while in decline, is still a major economic factor in coastal Georgia
between $200 and $250 Million in total annual business impact is
estimated. (With proper steps, we can recover reliable jobs and
- This combined annual total of a $1 Billion nature-based
business sector supports an estimated 40,000 jobs in the region alone.
Our communities, our quality of life, and thousands of coastal families
depend on them.
- Because so much water is pumped for industry, if more efficient methods
were adopted to reduce water use by just 10%, enough water would be
saved to support population growth for decades without further
jeopardizing water resources, aquatic life, or related jobs.
- Statewide, in 1995 total industrial use was 675.8 million gallons a
day - equivalent to the water needed to support a population of nearly
4.7 million. A mere 10% cutback by industry would meet the household
water needs of 470,000 people.
- The lion's share of total Georgia water use is for power
generation. Of the total water use estimated in Georgia in 1995, more
than half of all water withdrawn from rivers and wells was used to
generate electricity. Modest conservation steps saving just 10% in this
sector would support more than 2 million residents. And we should not
allow more power plants in Georgia unless they are clean, efficient and
needed by in-state energy users.