Senator David Shafer (R-Duluth), author of Zero Based Budgeting, has a new bill out that targets Georgia’s water problems. It seeks to fund repairs of leaky water infrastructure.
“Millions of gallons of water are lost each day to aging or inadequately maintained infrastructure — as much 18% of the surface water withdrawn for public use,” Shafer said. “Senate Bill 311, the Water Conservation and Savings Act, provides a way to pay for repairs without resorting to forced tax increases or unfunded mandates.”
“Unfortunately, because many local governments hold water withdrawal permits for more water than their citizens need, there is a little incentive for them to make repairs,” Shafer said. “At the same time, many growing counties are waiting years to obtain withdrawal permits of their own”
Shafer’s legislation creates a new funding mechanism for repairing water infrastructure. It would allow a local government seeking a water withdrawal permit to help pay the costs of repairing the infrastructure of another local government within the same river basin, provided that the amount of water saved from the repairs is reallocated from the permit, as well as the government receiving the repairs to the permit of the government paying for the repairs.
“The system would be voluntary,” Shafer said. “No local government willing to repair its own infrastructure would be required to accept help from another local government.”
Shafer said the bill creates an option for funding repairs that does not involve forced taxes, unfunded mandates or even an increase in the amount of water permitted to be withdrawn.
Shafer’s bill has been endorsed by the Georgia Conservancy and Georgia Conservation Voters.
Georgia’s water problem does not need to be forgotten. Finding workable solutions without levying taxes will be a challenge for Georgia’s Legislature during these economic times which already require budget cuts. Shafer’s bill appears to improve the use of water resources without the requirement of additional revenue sources. That should give it a good chance of passing when so few other bills can address a real problem without real money, too.