Protect Property Rights and Rivers – Vote NO SB 213
I’m writing to ask you to vote NO on SB 213.
The “flow augmentation” provision in lines 183-210 of SB 213 threatens Georgia’s riparian rights system and will alter fundamental property rights and threaten longstanding Georgia water rights law.
The augmentation provision allows the EPD director to deny water users that are downstream of an undefined “augmentation” project the use of any the “augmented” water flowing past their property. This provision allows the State to control (or allow a private party to control) a portion of stream flow and prohibit the reasonable use of it, which is akin to prior appropriation of water – a short step from western-type water regulation. State ownership of water is different from the state’s current regulation by permit.
As you know, property owners in Georgia have a “bundle” of rights that make up their property rights. An essential property right in that bundle is the right to reasonable use of water on or under your property. Allowing the appropriation and state control of water, and not allowing downstream property owners the right to reasonable use of it, radically diminishes that property right.
The augmentation language will benefit proposed, hugely expensive, taxpayer-funded, multi-million dollar augmentation projects. The water added by these proposed projects will flow to Florida while the augmentation language will deny Georgia farmers and other property owners reasonable use of it. These augmentation projects have been proposed to increase Metro Atlanta’s water supply but with the extremely high costs falling on utility customers, who already pay the highest water bills in the state.
Despite arguments to the contrary, augmentation projects to benefit endangered species are already operating in Georgia and this bill is not needed to do these projects.
Thank you for your consideration of this important issue.
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