All agricultural irrigation wells and pumps permitted by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Environmental Protection Division (GAEPD) must have a measurement device installed, with the Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission (GSWCC) having oversight of the program. Since 2003, over 11,000 meters have been installed to monitor agricultural water usage in Georgia.
This irrigation metering program includes installation, inspection and maintenance of meters; as well as regularly collecting data from meters installed on irrigation systems in Georgia.
These data assist policy makers in better understanding agricultural water use in the state and help agricultural producers improve efficiency in their use of water resources.
GSWCC is currently collecting water usage data from the metered sites. Permit holders will be mailed a yearly report showing their water-use recorded by each meter. It is anticipated that annual usage letters will be sent to agricultural producers in March of each year. Individual permit water use data are not released to the public.
Field staff continues to perform inspections and maintenance on meters, as well as rebuilding meters as needed.
The Metering Program is also doing community outreach to educate citizens on water issues and the metering program.
Under state law HB 579, GSWCC conducts an Agricultural Water Use Measurement Program. HB 579 states that the Commission “shall on behalf of the State purchase, install, operate, and maintain water-measuring devices…,” where ‘operate’ is defined to include “reading the water-measuring device, compiling data, and reporting findings.” Data collected contribute to the sound-science initiative.
Example of propeller-style meter
Most irrigation occurs in a six-month period between April 1 and October 1. For total water-use during that period, most meters need only to be read at the completion of the growing season. However, there is interest in water-use during critical periods of low stream flow, such as in August and September. Reading of all meters only after the growing season would miss those critical low-flow periods. Thus, a one percent sample of meters is read on a monthly basis.
The Commission also conducts a series of information sessions for irrigation water managers at the county and watershed level as well as for the general public so that they have a better understanding of the metering program.
For questions about the GSWCC Metering Program, contact Antonio Fleming at (229) 995-6001 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Information on Agricultural Water Withdrawal Permitting is available by contacting the Georgia EPD’s Agricultural Permitting Unit at (229) 391-2400.