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Perdue pushes water conservation in new legislation
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Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue called on state legislators Wednesday to incentivize water conservation.

Perdue unveiled the Georgia Water Stewardship Act of 2010, which will require water-efficient plumbing fixtures in all newly constructed residential and commercial buildings and provide loan incentives for local governments building reservoirs and expanding existing reservoirs.

In a statement, Perdue called the legislation a “road map towards being better stewards of our limited natural resources.”

The bill will be introduced in both the state House and the Senate and will be sponsored by the Ross Tolleson, chairman of the Senate Natural Resources and the Environment Committee, and Lynn Smith, chairwoman of the same committee in the House.

The bill would become effective in July 2012.

From that point forward:

  • Newly constructed residential and commercial buildings would be required to have water-efficient fixtures, and new industrial buildings would be required to use water-efficient cooling towers.
  • Each unit in newly constructed apartment complexes would have to have its own meter so individual water consumption can be recorded.
  • The state’s Environmental Protection Division would be required to set standards for leak detection for medium- and large-sized public water systems.
  • Surface water withdrawals made by farmers would be monitored.

The bill also tackles the state’s existing buildings, instructing eight different state agencies to develop incentives in their loan and grant program for local governments and water providers to retrofit existing buildings with water-efficient plumbing fixtures or install drought-tolerant landscapes.

The bill could provide discounts on interest rates for loans acquired through the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority or could make local governments eligible to apply for Community Development Block Grants annually instead of every two years.

Smith said the proposal empowers local communities to create solutions, just as they did last year.

“We don’t want to have blanket laws that could be punitive,” Smith said. “As citizens of Georgia, we managed ourselves pretty well through the last drought.”

Both she and Tolleson said the proposal shows the state is doing what it can while the issue is resolved.

“The state has to be very proactive in moving ahead,” Tolleson said. “I think this will have a positive impact on negotiations ... and it shows a good faith effort.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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