The role of the Upper Oconee Council is to prepare a regional plan (aka, Water Development and Conservation 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) will provide the Upper Oconee 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 will also estimate the capacity of the surface water resources to assimulate pollution.
In addition to the Water Resource Assessments, the Council will also use 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 are identified, the Council will determine which water and land use management practices should be employed to ensure there is sufficient water and assimilative capacity to meet future needs. EPD will use computer models to test the ability of the recommended practices to close any identified "gaps."
The Upper Oconee water planning region borders other regions or shares surface or groundwater resources with other regions; therefore, the Upper Oconee Council will communicate and coordinate with adjacent, upstream and/or downstream councils as well as EPD to ensure the appropriateness of the recommended management practices.
EPD and the Upper Oconee Council will use an iterative process of recommendation and modeling, to arrive at a set of management practices to meet the Region’s future needs.
The Upper Oconee Council submitted the Intiial Recommended Regional Plan for the Upper Oconee Region which was available for public review and comment May - July 2011. (Click here for more information about the public review and comment process) The Upper Oconee Council considered comments made on the plan, and made necessary and/or appropriate changes. The plan was re-submitted to EPD on September 30, 2011, and was officially adopted by the Director on November 15, 2011. Now that the Regional Plan is adopted, all EPD water permits and Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA) grants and loans for water projects will be guided by the Plan.