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City lauded for water conservation
Officials at ceremony to present WaterFirst signs were, from left, DCA Commissioner Mike Beatty, Mayor Jim Thomas, City Manager Billy Edwards and Assistant City Manager Kenneth Howard. - photo by Photo provided.
Mike Beatty, with Georgia’s Department of Community Affairs recently named Hinesville a WaterFirst community.
“We’re number 16,” Assistant City Manager Kenny Howard said of the number of cities with the designation in the state.
“It’s pretty difficult to get. It’s not something they give away easily.”
“On the Coast it’s only [Hinesville] and Savannah,” Waterfirst director for the state Beatre Denion said.
The DCA gives cities the designation upon demonstrating high levels of water protection in the area.
“It’s a great opportunity for the city in our efforts to protect our environment and conserve water as best we can. There are benefits that the city is very excited about,” Howard said.
Aside from increasing the quality of life of residents through preservation of their environment, he said there are other tangible benefits, including a one-percent reduction from the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority loan program, access to a network of resources and bonus points on grant applications.
City Manager Billy Edwards said he is proud of the designation because it shows the area’s dedication and appreciation of its natural resources. He was also excited to save taxpayers money.
“We’ve already applied for funds to do stormwater projects… The citizens will benefit from that because there’ll be a lower interest rate,” he said.
Howard said the qualifications for showing the city is making efforts to protect and conserve water were lengthy and the city had to qualify in seven categories: watershed assessment, stormwater master planning, wastewater treatment and management, water supply planning, water supply protection, water conservation, and water reclamation and reuse.
Howard said the city has gone above and beyond on reclamation and reuse.
“The water reclamation facility we recently finished is one of the first of its kind in the state so that in itself helped us to be competitive in the process,” he said.
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