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Old 01-31-14, 04:09 PM   #1
hook
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Thumbs down Camo Coalition Action Alert | Keep the Muck out of My Trout Stream

Keep the Muck out of My Trout Stream. A Georgia Wildlife Federation Camo Coalition Action Alert has been issued for Senate Bill 299. Take Action by Monday. A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at 1 pm in Room 450 of the Georgia Capitol.

SB 299 allows laws and rules that protect streams to be ignored so that activities sending mud and other pollutants into streams can be allowed if the pollutants can be cleaned from drinking water - at some point downstream. Mud and muck kills trout streams. Silt suffocates fish eggs eliminating trout reproduction. It destroys the habitat of aquatic food - caddis flies, mayflies, stone flies, and such. Pollutants can kill fish and food sources directly. Destroy the food chain; destroy the fishery.... Read more.

Kevin F. McGrath
Hook
Advocacy Chairman, Georgia Trout Umlimited
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Old 01-31-14, 04:54 PM   #2
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Default

Here is the text of the response that I got today from an email I sent to Sen. Gooch this morning, in which I complained that SB299 seemed to condone stream pollution:

This legislation will not reduce any trout stream buffers in the State of Georgia.

The only buffers that may be changed are those dealing with water supplies above the intake of a city or county. Currently, the EPD mandates a 300' buffer on all perennial streams for a 7 mile radius upstream of the intake. That is a taking of private property without compensation to the land owner. I am only trying to balance property rights with the need to protect water quality.

Under this code section, the local government will continue to be mandated to submit a watershed protection plan to the EPD for approval before the 300' buffer would be reduced. But under no circumstances would the trout stream buffers be impacted. The trout stream buffer is 100' (50' on each side of the stream) and it works well all over the state in protecting the water quality for fish to live.

I believe the information you have been sent may have omitted some of the background for this bill. There has been over a decade of work on this subject with various stakeholders groups and property owners that have attempted to find a viable solution. I believe this will result in a common sense solution and be a fair compromise to all sides.

I look forward to your response.

Steve Gooch


Your thoughts ?
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Old 01-31-14, 05:42 PM   #3
hook
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Default Sen. Gooch's Response | Comments

Fish or Fiddle - Thanks for contacting Sen. Gooch.

Trout stream buffers are 50’ either side of a stream. Buffers above drinking water supplies are 100’ vegetative and 150’ for impervious surfaces either side of a perennial stream from a radius of 7 miles upstream of a drinking water source. They are there to protect public waters, the resource’s use and downstream rights. Georgia limits activity in buffers zones. It doesn't seize and retitle property.

Don't be distracted, this is a pollution bill not a buffer bill. Buffers are but one method of managing water quality. Streams can be polluted from outside buffer zones. SB 299 would allow a stream's water quality to be degraded below what is fit for human contact so long as it can be purified to drinking water standards somewhere down stream. That means no fishing, lower property values and higher costs for drinking water downstream.

Landowners can apply for a variance from stream buffer rules for good reasons. GA EPD continually reviews applications, opens them for public comment and permits warranted activities inside buffer areas. SB 299 would make buffers, land development densities and land use activities optional in watershed protection planning.

The portion of the bill requiring a watershed protection plan is positive, but only if consideration of stream buffers, land development densities and land use activities are mandatory and not optional. Currently they are mandatory. So, why modify the law if it changes nothing? It also allows for a stream to be degraded below existing uses, such as fishing in trout waters, so long as the water can be purified back to drinking water standards. This is in conflict with federal water quality rules.

SB 299, as proposed, is a bad plan and bad law. Incidentally, Georgia Trout Unlimited was not included in the stakeholder group that Sen. Gooch mentions. See related Georgia Wildlife Federation Camo Coalition Action Alert.

Kevin F. McGrath
Advocacy Chairman, Georgia Trout Unlimited
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Old 02-01-14, 07:22 PM   #4
hook
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Default Important | Take Action Now

This bill is bad news for Georgia's streams and lakes. If you haven't responded to the Camo Coalition Alert -> Take Action Now.

Kevin F McGrath
Hook
Advocacy Chairman, Georgia Council of Trout Unlimited
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Old 02-05-14, 09:18 AM   #5
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Default Update

Georgia Trout Unlimited Legislative Update
Georgia Trout Unlimited (GA TU) works closely with the Georgia Wildlife Federation (GWF) and, as a member of the Georgia Water Coalition (GWC), GWC partner organizations in conserving, protecting and restoring Georgia’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds. We bring you cold, clean fishable water.

The Georgia General Assembly is forty percent of the way through this year’s forty day session.

Cold Water…
Watershed Planning
SB 299 changes watershed planning requirements from requiring that buffers, land development densities and land use activities be taken into account to being optional considerations by watershed planners. The more egregious elements of the bill were struck in a committee substitute bill that was passed in Senate Natural Resources on Tuesday. The substitute bill removed a provision that submitted watershed protection plans shall be approved by EPD. GA TU opposes SB 299 in its current form but is working with the sponsor to amend the language to make consideration of buffers, use and density mandatory and for watershed protection plans to be approved by EPD... Read more.

Kevin F McGrath
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Advocacy Chairman, Georgia Trout Unlimited
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Old 02-07-14, 04:06 PM   #6
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Default Good News | Update

Good news! Sen. Steve Gooch has agreed to offer a floor amendment on Senate Bill 299 that addresses the issues raised by GA TU members on the substitute bill passed out of Senate Natural Resources on Tuesday afternoon. The language about lowering water quality so long as it was recoverable to drinking water standards was struck in the committee. The issues coming out of committee were:
  • Change 'may' to 'shall' with regard to buffer areas along streams and reservoirs, land development densities, and land use activities.
  • Stipulation that the watershed protection plan be approved by the department.

He has a concern that buffer standards could be interpreted as something more restrictive than current law or rules, and requested that language specifying what 'buffer areas' means be included.

GA TU offered changes that addressed these issues. Sen. Gooch accepted that language. The following language is being reviewed by legislative and EPD counsel. Sen. Gooch will offer a floor amendment as the bill's author. GA TU supports the change and looks forward to NGTO members joining us in the same. Here is the floor amendment:
(d) The minimum standards and procedures for watershed protection referred to in subsection (b) of this Code section shall specifically include, but shall not be limited to, buffer areas along streams and reservoirs, land development densities, and land use activities. . Local governments shall submit for approval by the department a watershed protection plan which shall include standards and procedures for watershed protection. The department may adopt differing minimum standards and procedures of watershed protection based on the size of the watershed, the size or flow volume of the stream or reservoir, and whether or not the actual use of the municipal water supply is existing or proposed. Standards and procedures for buffer areas along streams and reservoirs adopted by the department shall be in accordance with the authority granted in subsection (b) of this Code section and Code 12-7-6.
Thank you to everyone that contacted Sen. Gooch, Senate Natural Resources, GA EPD and your Georgia Senator and Representative.

Kevin F. McGrath
Hook
Advocacy Chairman, Georgia Trout Unlimited
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