Water taken from the Floridan Aquifer is a limited resource – especially in Effingham, Bryan, and Chatham Counties. As much as we don’t want drinking water to limit growth, it does and it must. HB 1146 addresses water withdrawals specifically for “consumptive use”—that is water that will never go back into the aquifer. Once it is withdrawn, it is gone forever.
Public water suppliers and local governments have been charged buy our State Constitution and Legislature to protect our limited, shared resources, including water in the Floridan. They must protect both the quality and quantity. For this reason, public utilities and local governments work closely together to ensure new growth is planned and approved in concurrence with available infrastructure and capacity. This is all done through important public processes like the adoption of zoning ordinances and comprehensive land use plans and regional water management plans. These public resources ensure the distribution of public resources, like drinking water, is done in an efficient, equitable, and fiscally responsible manner.
If passed, HB 1146 would allow private companies or individuals receive a permit from EPD to withdraw water from the Floridan Aquifer and sell it to developments without a letter of concurrence from a local water utility or government. The passage of this bill would allow individuals to profit from the sale of the limited supply of drinking water from the Floridan Aquifer, putting the responsible planning and coordination by local governments and utilities at risk, as well as the long-term sustainability of our water supply.