BRADENTON, Fla. — Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal’s new Water Supply Task Force began mapping a strategy on Monday for the use of $300 million of bonds to help finance critical drinking facilities in the state.
The Georgia Environmental Finance Authority is heading up the task force that will review different kinds of technology for which the funding can be spent, according to GEFA spokesman Shane Hix.
“The goal at the end is to have a program developed that identifies the types of projects that will be eligible and the financial options to fund those projects and get them up and running,” Hix said.
He said the technologies include expanding existing reservoirs and building new ones, as well as additional water supply infrastructure such as storing water underground in aquifers and desalination. Once the program is developed, local governments would propose projects to be funded.
Deal’s plan calls for providing $300 million of bond financing over four years, a strategy he unveiled in his first budget in mid-January.
After developing the kinds of technology that can be used, the task force would then consider financing individual projects in which local governments would share in the cost.
The task force will also review options for public-private partnerships.
The timeline for the task force’s work calls for additional meetings in the coming months and the publication of a system to select projects for funding by July.
The initial project’s to receive funding are expected to be announced late this year or early in 2012.
Deal formed the Water Supply Task Force in late January and appointed GEFA as the lead agency to “develop a projectselection system that ensures alignment of state financial support for critical, cost-effective water supply projects.”
Creation of the task force is partly in response to a 2009 federal court ruling that said local governments around Atlanta were improperly withdrawing water from a federal reservoir known as Lake Lanier. The ruling orders severe cutbacks on those withdrawals next year.
A prolonged drought also fostered an examination of new technology to produce drinking water to meet the state’s growing population needs, particularly in the Atlanta metropolitan region.
In addition to GEFA, other state agency members of the task force are the Environmental Finance Authority, the Department of Natural Resources, the environmental protection division, the Department of Community Affairs, the State Financing and Investment Commission, the State Properties Commission, the Department of Agriculture, and the Soil and Water Conservation Commission.