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Water demand projected to be lower in 2050 than previously expected
Forecast to serve as basis for long-range plan
Linwood Wastewater Reclamation Facility assistant Plant manager Scott Baum watches as the aeration tanks bubble while in operation at the facility. A new report shows that projected water usage for the area is lower than was expected in 2009.

Water conservation measures over the past few years seem to be taking hold in a 15-county metro Atlanta area that includes Hall.

The Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District Governing Board issued a long-range water use forecast Wednesday that shows water demand for the area is projected to be 25 percent less than what was projected in 2009.

By 2050, the daily water demand is projected to be between 862 and 898 million gallons. The 2009 forecast projected daily water use of 1.2 billion gallons in 2050.

The forecast incorporates economic and population projections, as well as water utility billing data to estimate future residential and nonresidential water needs.

“We’ve always heard when I was in school that water would be a precious commodity,” said Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan, who serves on the district’s governing board. “It seems that day is coming … and we need to do everything we can to conserve our usage and not take that resource for granted.

“We need to save as much as we can, because who knows — we may be in a drought one of these days again, as bad or worse than the one we came out of (in 2009).”

Officials say the forecast reflects successful conservation efforts that have already helped dramatically reduce water usage across the region, such as the replacement of inefficient toilets, improved leak detection and utility rates that increase as the volume of water use rises.

“In addition to the Metro Water District’s efforts, Georgia’s Water Stewardship Act has been instrumental in improving water efficiency locally and statewide,” said Boyd Austin, chairman of the Metro Water District’s Governing Board.

Georgia lawmakers passed the Water Stewardship Act during the 2010 legislative session, on the heels of the devastating 2007-09 drought that struck the Southeast. It required conservation measures by local governments, water systems and state agencies.

During the drought, Lake Lanier drained to a historic low water level of 1,050.79 feet above sea level Dec. 26, 2007. The lake’s full pool is 1,071 feet above sea level in the summer and 1,070 feet in winter.

Today, officials said, two-thirds or more of the water withdrawn in the water district is returned to the region’s lakes and streams, officials said.

The forecast will serve as the basis for the Metro Water District’s next long-range water plan, which is being updated for approval in 2016.

“With each Metro Water District plan, the data we use to create the forecast improves,” said Katherine Zitsch, Director of the Metro Water District. “The most recent data highlight the effectiveness of our conservation and efficiency measures, which are so vital to our future and our economy.”

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