Georgia Senate Passes Bill Allowing Flexibility in Watershed Protection Standards

ATLANTA — The Georgia Senate has passed a measure that transfers oversight of watershed management regulations to local governments and also offers protection to landowner rights.

Senate Bill 299, sponsored by Sen. Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega, passed by a 46-7 margin.

“I have been working to improve these regulations since I was elected Lumpkin County Commissioner in 2001, and this legislation bill is the result of many open conversations with stakeholders, local officials and Environmental Protection Division representatives. This bill is the right step towards more efficient water conservation practices and still protects the rights of Georgia property owners,” said Sen. Gooch.

SB 299 clarifies minimum standards for watershed protection and empowers local government to draft customized watershed protection plan to better serve area needs. The bill ensures full compliance of the Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Act and continues to protect the beautiful trout streams of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Watersheds are areas that drain to shared water sources such as lakes, streams or aquifers. These areas cross county and municipal boundaries, and also help protect local water resources.

Senate Bill 299 now transfers to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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