Originally created 03/09/99

Senate OKs legislation blocking aquifer storage



ATLANTA -- The Senate unanimously approved legislation Monday to prevent a Savannah company from pumping river water into an underground aquifer and recovering it for future sales.

The bill, sponsored by Minority Leader Eric Johnson, R-Savannah, would declare a moratorium on the issuing of state permits for the controversial technology known as aquifer storage and recovery until the end of 2004.

TSG Water Resources, formerly known as the Savannah Group Inc., is seeking a permit from the state Environmental Protection Division to pump treated water from three coastal Georgia rivers into the Floridan Aquifer.

The water would be stored there for future recovery and sale to commercial and residential customers.

The proposed moratorium would give the state time to finish a five-year study of the effects saltwater intrusion is having on the aquifer, Mr. Johnson told his Senate colleagues before Monday's vote.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Walker said the moratorium also would give state officials a chance to examine the concept of private ownership of water supplies.

The bill now goes to the House, where similar legislation has languished in the Natural Resources and Environment Committee.

But Mr. Johnson said the Senate version should win converts in the House because it would limit the moratorium to the 11 coastal counties. The House bill would apply statewide.

Dave Williams is based in Atlanta and can be reached at (404) 589-8424 or mnews@mindspring.com.