The Need for Science-Based Water Policy
Rivers, and the streams and ground water that feed them, are the lifeblood
of Georgia. All life depends, directly or indirectly, on this water. Historically,
we have had an abundance of water with limited demands placed on the resources.
Fortunately, Georgia is blessed with extensive water resources, receiving
on average about 50 inches of precipitation each year. The state has over
70,000 miles of streams and rivers. In addition, the Floridan Aquifer
in South Georgia is one of the most prolific aquifers on earth. Other
aquifers are regionally important sources of water. In the coastal area,
Georgia has extensive wetlands, including some 400,000 acres in the Okefenokee
Swamp and nearly 500,000 acres of coastal marshes, the most extensive
marshes on the eastern coast of the United States. These water resources
and the rich biological diversity they support are truly exceptional assets
for the State of Georgia. Although these extensive water resources could
meet the multiple needs we place on them, problems are evident across
Georgia's water resources, as well as those throughout the United States
and in other countries, are seriously impacted by human activities, resulting
in overdrafts of surface and ground water; discharges of silt, nutrients,
and toxins from disposal facilities as well as runoff and infiltration
from land-based activities; invasion by non-native species; degradation
of riparian lands; increased flood scouring; and imposition of dams and
other barriers. The effects of these stresses are potential threats to
public health, concern over the reliability of water supplies, loss of
biological diversity, as well as diminution of aesthetic, recreation,
and economic value. To effectively address this situation, there is a
critical need for sound science-based public policy.
The goal of the River Basin Center is to increase the capacity of communities and other individual stakeholders to manage and protect their water and related land resources in a sustainable manner.
The RBC's mission is:
- To pursue interdisciplinary research and analysis in the areas of water quality and quantity, aquatic biodiversity, and how land use practices impact aquatic resources;
- To assist communities and other stakeholders in the development and application of strategies to manage these aquatic resources;
- To broadly communicate the results of research and policy analyses;
- To engage students in all aspects of the River Basin Center's work.
Our strategy for achieving our mission is to:
- Engage in scientific and policy research leading to innovative tools and proactive strategies;
- Leverage resources of the Institute of Ecology and the Law School to meet community needs;
- Provide accurate, reliable, and timely analysis, synthesis of information, and evaluation of trends;
- Transfer information to decision makers and stakeholders via publications, workshops, web sites, presentations, and other vehicles;
- Work collaboratively within the University of Georgia and with all levels of government, citizen groups, nongovernmental organizations, schools, and industry and establish partnerships to make effective use of resources; and
- Work principally in the Southeast but to undertake strategic national and international projects;
- Listen and respond to needs of communities and other stakeholders.
River Basin Center 2008 Strategic Plan
Map and Directions to the River Basin Center.