The Flint River Regional Water Development and Conservation Plan is based on two statutes: the Water Quality Act and the Groundwater Use Act. Specifically, the Water Quality Act states:
“In evaluating any application for a permit for the use of water for a period of 25 years or more, the director shall evaluate the condition of the water supply to assure that the supply is adequate to meet the multiple needs of the citizens of the state as can reasonably be projected for the term of the permit and ensure that the issuance of such permit is based upon a water development and conservation plan for the applicant or for the region. Such water development and conservation plan for the applicant or for the region shall promote the conservation and reuse of water within the state, guard against a shortage of water within the state, promote the efficient use of the water resource, and be consistent with the public welfare of the state.” (OCGA 12-5-31(h)).
Similar language is found in the Ground Water Use Act:
(e) The division or a party designated by the division may develop a regional water development and conservation plan for the state´s major aquifers or any portion thereof. Such plan shall include water development, conservation, and sustainable use and shall be based on detailed scientific analysis of the aquifer, the projected future condition of the aquifer, and current demand and estimated future demands on the aquifer…Upon adoption of a regional plan, all permits issued by the division shall be consistent with such plan. The term of any permit and all provisions of any permit for which an application for renewal is made prior to the completion of any regional plan shall be extended at least until the completion of such plan. (OCGA 12-5-96(e)).
In Georgia, the environmental regulations are developed first by the General Assembly, which creates statues or “Acts”. The administration of these statutes is controlled by “Rules”, which are created by the Board of Natural Resources and based closely on the Acts. Water use permits in Georgia are governed by the Groundwater Use Act (OCGA 12-5-90) and the Rules for Groundwater Use (391-3-2), and the Water Quality Act (OCGA 12-5-20) and the Rules for Water Quality Control (391-3-6). Both these sets of rules and acts govern the issuance of all water withdrawal permits. Other pertinent Rules and Statutes for the Flint River Basin are the Water Well Standards Act (OCGA 12-5-120), which governs the drilling of irrigation wells and the Flint River Drought Protection Act (OCGA 12-5-540) and accompanying Rules for the Lower Flint River Drought Protection (391-3-28), which govern the Flint River “irrigation auctions” that take place in extreme drought years like 2001 and 2002. The FRB Plan must be written in such a way that it is consistent with all these existing statutes and Rules.