Water crisis: the metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia, regional water supply conflict

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Many large population centres are currently facing considerable difficulties with planning issues to secure future water supplies, as a result of water allocation and environmental issues, litigation, and political dogma. A classic case occurs in the metropolitan Atlanta area, which is a rapidly growing, large population centre that relies solely on surface water for supply. Lake Lanier currently supplies about 70% of the water demand and has been involved in a protracted legal dispute for more than two decades. Drought and environmental management of the reservoir combined to create a water shortage which nearly caused a disaster to the region in 2007 (only about 35 days of water supply was in reserve). While the region has made progress in controlling water demand by implementing a conservation plan, per capita use projections are still very high (at 511 L/day in 2035). Both non-potable reuse and indirect reuse of treated wastewater are contained in the most current water supply plan with up to 380,000 m3/day of wastewater treated using advanced wastewater treatment (nutrient removal) to be discharged into Lake Lanier. The water supply plan, however, includes no additional or new supply sources and has deleted any reference to the use of seawater desalination or other potential water sources which would provide diversification, thereby relying solely on the Coosa and Chattahoochee river reservoirs for the future.

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