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Locals named to water use planning council
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Three men from Liberty County have been appointed to the Coastal Georgia Regional Water Planning Council.
Gov. Sonny Perdue, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and House Speaker Glenn Richardson announced the councils statewide Wednesdays. Based primarily on river watersheds, the councils are to have a role in the statewide water planning process.
The Coastal Council members include Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas, Liberty County Commission Chairman John McIver of Riceboro and former Hinesville Mayor Tom Ratcliffe. Phil Odom, an environmental activist from Hinesville is an alternate to the council.
The Coastal Council covers Bryan, Bulloch, Camden, Chatham, Glynn, Long, McIntosh and Effingham counties and other members include Marky Waters of Long County and Frank Field from McIntosh County. Richmond Hill City Manager Mike Melton and Rick Gardner of Pembroke represent Bryan County.
“The individuals we have selected are solution-oriented and will provide visionary water resource planning,” said Perdue said. “These appointments reflect a diverse group of Georgians and each one has a unique skill set and knowledge base, which will allow the councils to focus on water resource issues while also addressing the state’s economic needs.”
The Comprehensive Statewide Water Management Plan, approved by the General Assembly in 2008, created 10 water planning regions. Each region now has a planning council to represent the water interests unique to their respective regions.
“Water will remain a key issue for our state and I am very pleased with the group of individuals selected to move forward with a responsible, long-term plan,” Cagle said. “This list includes well-rounded men and women who expand across industries and regions.  It was an honor to work so closely with Gov. Perdue and Speaker Richardson on these nominations and the Comprehensive Statewide Water Management Plan.”
Each council consists of 25 members, three alternates and an ex-officio member from both the House and Senate. The Coastal Council’s ex-officio members include Rep. Cecily Hill, R-Kingsland, and Sen. Eric Johnson, R-Savannah.
 The councils include representatives from agriculture, forestry, industry, commerce, local governments, water utilities, regional development centers, tourism, recreation and environmental groups.
“The appointments named today represent Georgians with the right experience and background to serve their region’s water needs,” Richardson said.
“Their service will ensure our water resources are used prudently as we continue to implement water planning and conservation strategies.”
The councils will oversee preparation of regional water development and conservation plans for their planning regions. These plans will focus on both water quantity and water quality issues, and will include forecasts of future water supply and wastewater treatment needs.
Under requirements of the plan, the governor selects 13 members of each council. In addition, the governor selects one alternate member who will attend all meetings and vote if needed to establish a quorum. The lieutenant governor and the speaker select the remaining council members including non-voting ex officio members from the Senate and the House.

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