Wednesday, 8 October 2008: 8:30 AM
George R. Brown Convention Center, 382AB
Dating back to 1787, Georgia has argued with neighboring states over waterways that dictate state boundaries and water resources for citizens and industries. However, an ongoing twenty-eight year legal battle between Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, known as the “Tri-state Water War”, has impacted water use, businesses, conservation efforts, policy, and regulatory decisions in Georgia since 1990. At the crux of the disagreement are rights to water for economic growth, navigation for transport and trade, and habitat for endangered species. Compound legal wrangling with rapid development of a major metropolitan center (i.e. Atlanta), an insufficiently small watershed, with periodic drought and, the results are regulations and policy that disproportionately impact various industries, like the green industry. Components of the green industry (e.g. golf, landscape, sports fields, sod production, etc.) have been viewed as expendable or “nonessential”. The golf course industry chose to take a proactive approach to demonstrating stewardship of natural resources. The Georgia Golf Course Superintendents Association (GGCSA) entered into an agreement with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to create a culture of water conservation by getting 75% of member courses to develop site-specific Best Management Practices for water conservation. Within the three year time frame, the GGCSA achieved 93% participation and were acknowledged as “pioneers” in water conservation, becoming a model for other Georgia industries. These efforts have culminated in goodwill between industry and regulatory authorities which precipitated a DNR administrative order that eased water restrictions for golf courses. Furthermore, golf course leadership has changed policy away from scheduled irrigation based on day of the week and address to a conservation program where trained turfgrass managers irrigate based on agronomic principles. Other components of the green industry are following the GGCSA’s lead and are working cooperatively with regulatory officials to conserve water resources while maintaining economic development.
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