Watershed Protection Branch
In support of Georgia EPD’s Mission, Vision, and Guiding Principles, the Watershed Protection Branch protects and restores Georgia’s water resources. We take the lead in ensuring clean and safe water, and with our partners, we pursue a sustainable environment that provides a foundation for a vibrant economy and healthy communities. The Branch manages water resources in Georgia through regulatory and protection programs, monitoring, assessment and planning. The Branch issues permits to local governments and industry to discharge treated wastewater and stormwater and to local governments, industry, farmers and subdivisions for surface water and groundwater withdrawals. The Branch ensures that Georgia's public water systems are operating properly to supply safe drinking water to citizens, and controls nonpoint sources of pollution through grants and volunteer programs such as Rivers Alive and Adopt-a-Stream. The Branch also conducts monitoring and modeling of Georgia's waters.
Regulatory and Protection Programs
The Branch administers various permitting programs, including the following:
- Wastewater (direct discharges, land application, pretreatment and underground injection control)
- Drinking Water
- Water Withdrawals (surface and groundwater for municipal, industrial or agricultural use)
- Erosion and Sedimentation (including buffers)
The Branch also has regulatory authority over:
Standards, Monitoring and Assessment of Georgia’s Waters
The Branch’s Watershed Planning and Monitoring Program establishes water quality standards for Georgia’s waterbodies, conducts monitoring throughout the state, and conducts an assessment of monitored waterbodies’ compliance with water quality standards. For waters that are assessed and do not support the water quality standards, a total maximum daily load (TMDL) is developed. TMDLs and wasteload allocations for wastewater dischargers are informed by the program’s water quality modeling efforts.
Guidance documents on how to conduct a Watershed Monitoring Plan, prepare a Watershed Assessment, develop a Watershed Protection Plan, and submit data for the Watershed Protection Plan Annual Report can be found in the Watershed Assessment and Protection Plan Guidance Documents.
Groundwater monitoring data and Georgia geological maps and information can be found in the Georgia Geologic Survey Publications.
The Branch engages with Regional Water Planning Councils throughout the state in sustainably managing Georgia’s water resources into the future. For more information on the Regional Water Planning process and to access Regional Water Plans, please visit https://waterplanning.georgia.gov/. The Metro Water District’s Water Resource Management Plan was prepared in accordance with EPD guidance. The Branch enforces the Plan’s provisions through our permitting processes, including reviews of local jurisdictions’ good faith efforts to comply with the Plan before issuing new or expanded permits for water withdrawal, wastewater discharges, or MS4 permits. If you are a local jurisdiction and have been contacted to complete EPD’s audit, please to download the checklist.
The Branch works with our partners to address nonpoint source management through the implementation of Georgia’s Statewide Nonpoint Source Management Plan. Our efforts include administering nonpoint source implementation grants and outreach and educational programs.
The Branch’s Floodplain Management program coordinates with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the development of Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) for Georgia and provides community outreach and assistance.