2010 Georgia Code
TITLE 12 - CONSERVATION AND NATURAL RESOURCES
CHAPTER 5 - WATER RESOURCES
ARTICLE 2 - CONTROL OF WATER POLLUTION AND SURFACE-WATER USE
§ 12-5-23.1 - Water quality standards for lakes; monitoring; studies and reports; development, approval, and publication of water quality standards
. Water quality standards for lakes; monitoring; studies and reports; development, approval, and publication of water quality standards
(a) As used in this Code section, the word "lake" means any publicly owned lake or reservoir located wholly or partially within this state which has a normal pool level surface average of 1,000 or more acres.
(b) The director shall establish water quality standards for each lake which require the lake to be safe and suitable for fishing and swimming and for use as a public water supply, unless a use attainability analysis conducted within requirements of this article demonstrates such standards are unattainable.
(c) For purposes of this subsection, a multiple parameter approach for lake water quality standards shall be adopted. Numerical criteria including, but not limited to, those listed below shall be adopted for each lake:
(1) pH (maximum and minimum);
(2) Fecal coliform bacteria;
(3) Chlorophyll a for designated areas determined as necessary to protect a specific use;
(4) Total nitrogen;
(5) Total phosphorus loading for the lake in pounds per acre feet per year; and
(6) Dissolved oxygen in the epilimnion during periods of thermal stratification.
(d) The standards for water quality of each lake shall take into account the geographic location of the lake within the state and the location of the lake within its watershed as well as horizontal and vertical variations of hydrological conditions within each lake. The director shall also establish nutrient limits for each of the lakes' major tributary streams, including streams with permitted discharges. Such limits shall be consistent with the requirements of subsection (b) of this Code section and shall be established on the basis of accepted limnological techniques and as necessary in accordance with the legal and technical principles for total maximum daily loads. The nutrient limits for tributary streams shall be established at the same time that the lake water quality standards are established.
(e) After water quality standards are established for each lake and its tributary streams, the division shall monitor each lake on a regular basis to ensure that the lake reaches and maintains such standards.
(f) The data from such monitoring shall be public information. The director shall have the authority to close a swimming area if data from samplings indicates, in the opinion of the director, that such action is necessary for public safety.
(g) Provided funds are available from any source, there shall be a comprehensive study of each lake prior to adopting lake water quality standards for the lake. Study components and procedures will be established after consultation with local officials and affected organizations. The comprehensive study for Lake Sidney Lanier, Lake Walter F. George, and West Point Lake shall be initiated during 1990. At least three comprehensive studies for remaining lakes shall be initiated in each subsequent year. The duration of each study shall not exceed two years. A scientific report on each comprehensive study shall be published within 180 days after the completion of the study. Draft recommendations for numerical criteria for each of the water quality parameters will be simultaneously published, taking into account the scientific findings. A public notice of the draft recommendations, including a copy of the recommendations, will be made available to the public. Public notice in accordance with Chapter 13 of Title 50, the "Georgia Administrative Procedure Act," shall be provided for such recommendations. The notice shall be made available at least 30 days prior to board action in a regional public library or county courthouse. The recommendation will be provided to persons submitting a written request. A comment period of not less than 45 days nor more than 60 days will be provided.
(h) The director or the director's designee shall conduct a public hearing within the above-referenced comment period in the vicinity of the lake before the final adoption of lake water quality standards for the lake. The director shall announce the date, time, place, and purpose of the public hearing at least 30 days prior to the hearing. A ten-day period subsequent to the hearing will be allowed for additional public comment.
(i) The Department of Natural Resources will evaluate the comments received during the comment period and during the public hearing and will then develop recommended final standards and criteria for submission to the Board of Natural Resources for consideration and approval.
(j) The final recommendations of the director for lake water quality standards shall be made to the Board of Natural Resources within 60 days after the close of the comment period subsequent to the public hearing provided for in subsection (h) of this Code section. The standards, with such modifications as the board may determine, shall be considered for adoption by the Board of Natural Resources within 60 days after receiving the recommendations from the director. Such standards shall be published by the department and made available to all interested local government officials and citizens of the area served by the lake.
(k) At the discretion of the director, comment periods and deadlines set forth above may be extended, but in no circumstance shall more than one year elapse between the completion of the lake study and the adoption of the final recommendations.
Graham Syfert - Jacksonville Lawyer