Regional Business Coalition joins effort to promote rainwater harvesting

By David Pendered

The message about the value of rainwater harvesting should reach a broader audience this year.

Terry Lawler

Terry Lawler

The Regional Business Council has signed on as a partner with the Southeast Rainwater Harvesting Systems Assoc., a non-profit that promotes the endeavor. The RBC plans to spread the message through the business community, possibly through chambers of commerce, as well as the private sector.

“What caught my attention was the significant amount of water we as a region could save through rainwater harvesting,” said Terry Lawler, the RBC’s executive director. “Our organization has the capacity to get this message into the public eye in a way that will be bigger than the volunteer organization can.”

Lawler said the details of how the RBC will spread the word are still being worked out. The effort likely will include word-of-mouth and the printed materials already created by SRHSA, which can be distributed at any number of events, he said.

The capacity to share the message that Lawler mentioned stems from the reach the RBC has in the region.

The RBC was incorporated in 1997 to promote communications within the business community and serve as a point of contact, according to its incorporation papers. Lawler brings a background in governmental affairs, in addition to six years as a state representative.

RBC board members cover the waterfront of public policy in the region. A few of the names on the most recent report filed with the state are: A.J. Robinson, Central Atlanta Progress; Brandon Beach, newly elected senator from north Fulton and CEO of the North Fulton Chamber of Commerce; Sam Williams, Metro Atlanta Chamber; Doug Hooker, ARC; Al Nash, GRTA; and Randy Cardoza, a consultant and former commissioner of Georgia Department of Economic and Community Development.

Bob Drew, chairman of the SRHSA, said in a statement he is happy to see the RBC recognize the value of rainwater harvesting and help promote the approach.

“The metro Atlanta region enjoys some of the most abundant annual rainfall of any major inland city in the nation,” Drew said in the statement. “By capturing and using the water that runs off of area rooftops with every rainstorm, rainwater harvesting could provide a significant contribution to meeting metro Atlanta’s future water supply needs.”

Lawler cited the Georgia Tech report that SRHSA promotes. According to SRHSA’s summary: “If just one out of every 10 existing metro Atlanta homes and businesses used rainwater harvesting, this technology could potentially reduce demand for water from city and county water systems by roughly 27 million gallons per day.”

“They have the PR process and they have the study,” Lawler said. “But they haven’t got a group to push the message out to the public. This is something the chambers can get behind – push it out through newsletters, distribute materials at meetings, folks can come out and talk to chambers, policy makers, and legislators.”

The RBC was incorporated in 1997 to promote communications within the business community and serve as a point of contact, according to its incorporation papers. Lawler brings a background in governmental affairs, in addition to six years as a state representative.

RBC board members cover the waterfront of public policy in the region. A few of the names on the most recent report filed with the state are: A.J. Robinson, Central Atlanta Progress; Brandon Beach, newly elected senator from north Fulton and CEO of the North Fulton Chamber of Commerce; Sam Williams, Metro Atlanta Chamber; Doug Hooker, ARC; Al Nash, GRTA; and Randy Cardoza, a consultant and former commissioner of Georgia Department of Economic and Community Development.

If nothing else, the RBC’s effort will show to the federal government that metro Atlanta is doing everything it can to control its use of water that’s drawn from Lake Lanier and the Chattahoochee River, Lawler said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is at the starting point of what is to the creation of a new manual to guide the management of the waters of the Chattahoochee River system.

The Corps’ water operations manual is critically important because it will update one that dates to the Eisenhower era – a time long before the population boom of north Georgia and Alabama cities including Birmingham and Montgomery, according to Boyd Austin, the mayor of Dallas who chairs the Metropolitan North Georgia Water District.

 

About David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with nearly 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.
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4 comments
Gene
Gene

The highest annual rainfall in GA is in the Tennessee River basin. There is as much wasted GA runoff in the Tenn River as in the entire average flow of the Chattahoochee leaving Buford Dam. Until some of that wasted runoff is recovered for use in GA's major metropolitan area, we will not be able to solve our water supply problems.

Burroughston Broch
Burroughston Broch

Gene, I believe you are mistaken. Take a look at this map: http://georgiaadoptastream.com/db/which_shed.asp. The watersheds that supply the Tennessee River are Chickamauga, Nottely-Hiwassee, and Little Tennessee. While the combined area is similar to the Chattahoochee watershed above Buford Dam, the Nottely-Hiwassee flow is controlled by the TVA Nottely and Hiwassee dams and hydro plants. That leaves the Little Tennessee and Chickamauga watersheds. The Little Tennessee is too small to be of use. That leaves the Chickamauga watershed, much of which is developed. Constructing dams and reservoirs will be a very expensive proposition, and all of the water would have to be pumped uphill toward Atlanta..

Also, in doing what you suggest we would also run afoul of the ban on inter-basin transfers. If the inter-basin transfer problem were eliminated, it would be simpler to pump directly out of the Tennessee River.

Burroughston Broch
Burroughston Broch

Gene, I believe you are mistaken. Take a look at this map: http://georgiaadoptastream.com/db/which_shed.asp. The watersheds that supply the Tennessee River are Chickamauga, Nottely-Hiwassee, and Little Tennessee. While the combined area is similar to the Chattahoochee watershed above Buford Dam, the Nottely-Hiwassee flow is controlled by the TVA Nottely and Hiwassee dams and hydro plants. That leaves the Little Tennessee and Chickamauga watersheds. The Little Tennessee is too small to be of use. That leaves the Chickamauga watershed, much of which is developed. Constructing dams and reservoirs will be a very expensive proposition, and all of the water would have to be pumped uphill toward Atlanta.. Also, in doing what you suggest we would also run afoul of the ban on inter-basin transfers. If the inter-basin transfer problem were eliminated, it would be simpler to pump directly out of the Tennessee River.