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Georgia Water Management Planning and Water Quality Assessment and Data Sources
State-wide and Basin Water Resource Management Planning

1. Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD), 2002 St Marys River Basin Management Plan, Atlanta, GA.

The development of this management plan for the St. Marys River basin began in 1997 as part of Georgia’s River Basin Management Planning (RBMP) approach for each of the State’s 14 major river basins. The RBMP approach provides the framework for identifying, assessing, and prioritizing water resources issues, developing management strategies, and providing opportunities for targeted, cooperative actions to reduce pollution, enhance aquatic habitat, and provide a dependable water supply.

Though a 2007 plan update was scheduled, a 2004 water management planning act substantially altered the process of more integrated water plan development. Consequently, I have only attached an executive summary:

2. The Water Council Approved, 2008, “Georgia Comprehensive State-wide Water Plan”, prepared by the Georgia EPD.

The 2004 Comprehensive State-wide Water Management Planning Act mandated the development of a integrated water quality and quantity state-wide water plan that “supports a far-reaching vision for water resource management” including the selection of 11 water planning regions and water planning councils which would oversee preparation and periodic updates of regional water development and conservation plans. A copy of the resultant 2008 Georgia Comprehensive State-wide Water Plan is attached:

3. 2011 Regional Water Council Plans and Guidance:

a.Georgia EPD, July, 2009, “Regional Water Planning Guidance: Georgia’s State Water Plan”.
The State Water Plan calls for the preparation of regional water plans designed to manage water resources in a sustainable manner through 2050. It establishes ten regional water planning councils and provides a framework for regional planning consistent with the policy statement that “Georgia manages water resources in a sustainable manner to support the state’s economy, to protect public health and natural systems, and to enhance the quality of life for all citizens.”  The regional planning guidance is attached as:

b.March 2017 “Draft Update of the September”, 2011, Coastal Regional Water Plan, prepared by Georgia EPD with the assistance of the Suwannee-Satilla Council

c.March 2017 “Draft Update of the September”, 2011, Suwannee Satilla Regional Water Plan, prepared by Georgia EPD with the assistance of the Suwannee-Satilla Council

The latest draft updates of the 2011 regional water plans for the planning areas adjacent to the Northeast Florida Regional Council’s jurisdiction--the Suwannee Satilla and Coastal Georgia Regional Water Plans—were prepared for two of the State’s eleven water planning regions designated in the 2008 State-wide Water Plan.  The “vision” of these plans is: “. . . to manage water resources in a sustainable manner under Georgia’s regulated riparian and regulated reasonable use laws to support the state’s and region’s economy, to protect public health and natural resources, and to enhance the quality of life for all citizens; while preserving the private property rights of Georgia’s landowners, and in consideration of the need to enhance resource augmentation and efficiency opportunities.” The plans address both water supply and water quality (as assimilative capacity).

These plans include or address:
1. an introduction, vision, and goals.
2. a description of the planning region.
3. the water resources of the region.
4. forecasts of future water needs.
5. a comparison of available resource capacity and future needs.
6 implementation of water management practices.
7. monitoring and reporting progress.

The draft plans may be found on the following path: Georgia EPD>Watershed Protection Branch>Technical Guidance>Draft Regional Plans>Coastal Georgia or Suwannee Satilla Regional Water Plan.  Copies of the draft plans are attached:

Other Water-Related State or Regional Plans or Programs
1. Georgia DNR/EPD, March 10, 2010, “Georgia’s Water Conservation Implementation Plan”.

Georgia’s State-wide Water Management Plan calls for the development of a Georgia Water Conservation Implementation Plan to guide Georgia’s seven major water use sectors toward greater water use efficiency, by detailing water conservation goals, benchmarks, best practices and implementation actions designed to reduce water waste, water loss, and, where necessary, water use. A copy is attached:

2. Georgia DNR, EPD, 2014, “Georgia’s Statewide Nonpoint Source Management Plan”.

The Georgia’s 2014 Statewide Nonpoint Source Management Plan is an update of Georgia’s initial 1990 EPA approved Nonpoint Source Assessment Report and Nonpoint Source Management Program.  This plan provides a cooperative regulatory and non- regulatory approach to the management of nonpoint sources of pollution in Georgia.  It includes an inventory of nonpoint source management in Georgia, including activities which are currently underway or planned for the time period FFY15 through FFY2019.  A copy is attached:

3. Georgia DNR Coastal Resources Division, May 1, 2015, “Section 309 Assessment and Strategy 2016 to 2020”.

Section 309 of the Coastal Zone Management Act identifies nine Program Enhancement Areas and encourages coastal states to conduct a self-assessment of their coastal management programs to assess the effectiveness of current efforts to address known or identified problems. The Georgia Coastal Management Program (GCMP) recently completed an assessment its Program and identified problems and opportunities for each of the enhancement areas; determined the effectiveness of the Program’s existing efforts to address problems for each of the enhancement objectives; and identified priority needs for Program enhancements for the period 2016 to 2020.  A copy is attached:

Georgia’s Primarily Surface Water Quality Data Collection, Assessment, and Access.
Note that this is limited to primarily to major sources of surface water quality information for Georgia (which I am most familiar with) and does include other sources of data or information pertaining to surface flow (except as related to determination of load and concentration), discharges, water use or withdrawal, groundwater, etc. Primary sources of water quality data and assessment for Georgia are:

1.State of Georgia

a. Georgia Data Base
Georgia uses an electronic accessible data system or paper data system for water quality, fish tissue, toxicity, habitat, biological, and facility monitoring data. Data collected by the GAEPD and its cooperators are stored within the GOMAS, an internal web-accessible database. Data stored in GOMAS are available to the public upon request. Trend and state-wide water quality data is also stored in WRDB and available to the general public through GAEPD’s website at Additionally, these water quality data are uploaded to the USEPA’s STORET database (see subsequent discussion). The USEPA STORET database provides an electronic Internet portal to GAEPD data. STORET provides Georgia the opportunity to assess waters beyond state boundaries, as appropriate. All data are collected and stored using appropriate metadata and State/Federal geo-locational standards.

b.  305b Report
Pursuant to Section 305(b) of the Clean Water Act, every two years States must prepare and submit to EPA a water quality report assessing the State's water quality.  It includes an integrated list of waters that are both supporting and not supporting their Designated Uses.  The waters not supporting their Uses that do not have a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) are placed on the 303(d) List, which contains the pollutants causing impairments and the priority ranking including those waters targeted for TMDL development within the next two years.

Georgia’s 2016 is currently being updated and readied for publication in 2018.  There is no complete copy of the report as it, like previous versions of the report, are accessible only in sections and chapters.  The reports may be accessed thru the Georgia Environmental Protection Division web site as follows: Georgia EPD>Watershed Protection Branch>Technical Guidance>Watershed Planning and Monitoring Program>Assessment>Georgia 305(b)/303(d) List Documents> 2016 305(b)/303(d) List of Waters.

c. Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL)
TMDLs are required for waters on a state’s Section 303(d) list of Impaired Waters. A TMDL establishes the maximum amount of a pollutant a waterbody can assimilate without exceeding the applicable water quality standard. The TMDL allocates the total allowable pollutant load to individual sources or categories of pollution sources through wasteload allocations (WLAs) for point sources regulated by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program and through load allocations (LAs) for all other sources.  The WLAs and LAs in the TMDL provide a basis for states to reduce pollution from both point and nonpoint sources that will lead to restoration of the quality of the impaired waterbody.  The reports may be accessed thru the Georgia Environmental Protection Division web site as follows: Georgia EPD>Watershed Protection Branch>Technical Guidance>Watershed Planning & Monitoring Program>Assessment> Water Quality Modeling>Total Maximum Daily Loadings (TMDLs). 

TMDL files for the St. Marys are:

d. TMDL Implementation Plans
The TMDL Implementation Plan is the process for achieving the basically nonpoint source pollution or load allocation determined by the TMDL.   Federal Regulations require States to include an implementation plan as part of a TMDL development and submittal.  The Implementation Plans are intended to address an action plan, education/outreach activities, stakeholders, pollutant sources, and potential funding sources affecting the sub-basin. In addition, the Plan describes (a) regulatory and voluntary practices/control actions (management measures) to reduce target pollutants, (b) milestone schedules to show the development of the management measures (measurable milestones), (c) a monitoring plan to determine the efficiency of the management measures and measurable milestones, and (d) criteria to determine whether substantial progress is being made towards reducing pollutants in impaired waterbodies. The overall goal of the Plan is to define a set of actions that will help achieve water quality standards in the state of Georgia.

Selected TMDL Implementation Plan files for the St. Marys are:

A complete list of the status of all TMDLs and TMDL Implementation Plans in the State as of 2015 is available at Georgia EPD>Watershed Protection Branch>Technical Guidance>Watershed Planning & Monitoring Program>Assessment> Water Quality Modeling>Total Maximum Daily Loadings (TMDLs)>The list of TMDL Implementation Plans with TMDLs organized by Basin and HUC10

c. River Basin Plan Chapters
Chapters 3 of the previously described Coastal and Suwannee Satilla River Regional Water Plans provide a basinwide assessment of Current Surface Water Quality (Assimilative Capacity), Surface Water Availability, and groundwater availability and analyzed the capacity of water resources to meet demands for water without causing unacceptable local or regional impacts according to metrics established by EPD. The assessments were completed on a resource basis (river basins and aquifers).

d. Georgia AAS
Georgia Adopt-A-Stream has developed and trained a large number of citizen monitoring groups to collect and maintain quality assurance and control of a range of constituents including conductivity, air & water temperature, dissolved oxygen & % saturation, pH, salinity, a rough measure of orthophosphate, and in many cases E. coli bacteria using IDEXX or 3M Petrifilm techniques.  The sampling sites are widespread and found in many places where data have not been collected by water resource agencies.  Two sites are located in adjoining Charlton County—one on the Satilla River and a new site on the St. Marys River—and multiple sites with at least several years of data are located on the Satilla& St Marys Rivers and tributaries.

Data and plots may be viewed and downloaded from the Georgia AAS site located at

2. US Environmental Protection Agency
Georgia’s surface water data can also be retrieved through STORET a national water quality database created by the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). STORET is a national water quality database, created by the USEPA to serve as a central repository for the nation’s water quality data for over 30 years. STORET provides free, unlimited access to its data to all agencies and individuals. STORET data may be browsed or downloaded using a standard web browser, such as Netscape or Internet Explorer.

Water quality data is available in three locations, according to when it was originally supplied to EPA and when it was originally archived. The more current database is the STORET Data Warehouse, and the older database which contains pre-1999 data is the STORET Legacy Data Center (LDC for short). Users can query the Water Quality Portal which contains all data from STORET and USGS National Water Information System (NWIS). In addition, STORET provides automated data calls via web services and links to other user tools and applications.

Links are as follows:

b. Assessment and Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Tracking and Implementation System (ATTAINS)

The Assessment and Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Tracking and Implementation System (ATTAINS) is an online system for accessing information about the conditions in the Nation’s surface waters.  To access this system merely enter EPA ATTAINS in your browser.

3. US Geologic Survey (USGS)
The USGS collects and analyzes chemical, physical, and biological properties of water, sediment and tissue samples from across the Nation. The NWISWeb discrete sample data base is a compilation of over 3.5 million historical water quality analyses in the USGS district data bases through September 2001. The discrete sample data is a large and complex set of data that has been collected by a variety of projects ranging from national programs to studies in small watersheds. Users should review the help notes and particularly the Data retrieval precautions before beginning any retrieval or analysis of data from this data set. Additions of more current data, modifications to ancillary information, and enhanced retrieval options to help users find and appropriately use the data they need are planned for a future release of NWISWeb.

At selected surface-water and ground-water sites, the USGS maintains instruments that continuously record physical and chemical characteristics of the water including pH, specific conductance, temperature, dissolved oxygen, and percent dissolved-oxygen saturation. Supporting data such as air temperature and barometric pressure are also available at some sites. At sites where this information is transmitted automatically, data are available from the real-time data system.  Following is information to access this data source:

Title: USGS Water-Quality Data for Georgia

4. Other Major Agencies
Keith W. Gates and Katy A. Smith, “Assessment of the St. Marys River Biological Water Quality, Primary Productivity, and Pollutant Load – Phase I Monitoring: A  Coastal Incentive Grant Final Report for the Period 10/1/06 – 3/31/08.

The University of Georgia Marine Extension Service (MAREX) has conducted ongoing water quality research in Georgia’s major coastal rivers over the past eight years. The St. Marys River was the fourth among the five major rivers to be monitored for one year. The initial monitoring began with scouting of the river in October 2006 and continued with monthly monitoring through September 2007. A suite of information was collected to assess the water quality of the St. Marys River.


1.stm-execsum 187kb
2.GA State Water Management Plan 3.6mb
3.GA Regional Planning Guidance 14mb
4.Coastal Draft RWP Update 2017 6.6MB
5.Suwannee Satilla Draft RWP Update 2017 6.1MB
6.GA Water Conservation Plan 1mb
7.GA Nonpoint Source Management Plan 7mb
8.GA Draft Coastal Management Program 1.5mb
9.EPA_St_Marys_Watershed_Hg_TMDL 2.9mb
10.EPD_Final_StMarys_DO_TMDL 814kb
11.EPD_Final_StMarys_Fecal_TMDL 932kb
12.EPD_StMarys_DO_TMDL_2000 6.2mb
13.TMDLIP_StMarysRiver_DO_0307020404_Y2002 547kb
14.TMDLIP_SouthGA4_FCG_Hg_Y2002 216kb