Last week, by a vote of 164-3, the House overwhelmingly passed SB 213, or the Flint River Drought Protection Act. The bill was amended in the House of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee on Monday to strengthen the original intent of the legislation.
Those changes included:
- Clarification that the only area affected by the bill are Spring Creek, Ichawaynochaway Creek, Kinchafoonee Creek, and Muckalee Creek.
- Defines “augmentation” to mean “the addition of ground water from one or more aquifers underlying the affected areas into a surface water channel within the affected area for the purpose of maintaining instream flows”.
- Further clarifies that this legislation would only apply to surface water, not ground water.
- Explicitly states that SB 213 does not provide for interbasin transfers.
SB 213 was further amended in the House Rules Committee on last Wednesday shortly before going to the floor for a vote. The amendment offered in Rules Committee essentially reiterated that any state-funded augmentation projects would be solely for the purpose of “maintaining the minimum stream flows sufficient to protect habitat critical for vulnerable aquatic life within the affected areas”.
On last Thursday, the senate voted to agree with the changes made in the House. SB 213 will now go to Governor Deal for his signature.
GFB supports SB 213 because it proactivity addresses drought conditions in the lower Flint River while keeping intact private property rights and farmers’ ability to irrigate.