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Water Scarcity: A New Growth Industry

March 9, 2010

Many people express the concern that Georgia will take an economic body blow if metro Atlanta is permanently cut off from Lake Lanier.  Economic damage could be done if Judge Magnuson’s July 2009 ruling stands, but it is also safe to say that old and new economic sectors are poised to rake in some cash.  Lawyers, engineers, plumbers, the urban agriculturalists, and forward thinking entrepreneurs look like potential winners in the tri-state water war.

Entrepreneurs:  Eddie Van Giesen has great ideas for how to harvest water.  He works for Blue Ridge Atlantic Enterprises, an organization that has moved beyond ideas to practical application in residential, commercial, and institutional settings.  For example, they have installed rainwater capture systems on the University of Georgia’s campus and at the Hotel Indigo in downtown Athens.

Lawyers, guns, and money: Bruce Jackson and Matthew T. Covell recently laid out Arnall Golden Gregory LLP’s Water Resources Practice Team in a Georgia Engineer article.  Read more here.

Engineers: Harold Reheis, of Joe Tanner & Associates and the state’s former Environmental Protection Division Director, recently wrote in the Atlanta Business Chronicle that, “Water woes present opportunities for engineers.”  Take a look at the Water Contingency Task Force’s final report, which was produced at least in part by engineering consultants.  Specifically, check out the raw water supply and treated water pipelines and pumps necessary for the Lake Burton and Hartwell interbasin transfers (slides 136 & 137).  And then there was the new non-potable reuse infrastructure (44), the new reservoirs (69), and a desalination plant (116).  You get the point.

Urban agriculturalists: This green industry can still turn a tidy buck in a region imbued with a renewed culture of conservation.  Georgians will still need nurseries and horticulturalists to propagate drought tolerant and appropriate turf, plants, and trees.  And customers will still need grounds crews to maintain landscapes that do not consume lots of water.

Simple behavioral changes, new technologies, new products, and smart policy designed to achieve water conservation and efficiency will benefit the economy and jobs in the short term and the long run.  We cannot afford to live as we always have, and there are plenty of folks offering their services to help us make the transition.

-Chris Manganiello

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