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Northwest Georgia Water Partnership A Regional Approach to Water Quality Management and TMDL Implementation

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The Coosa River Basin, an EPA/EPD Priority Watershed has a large stakeholder group whose goal is improving water quality in the Coosa River Basin and neighboring basins. This regional approach to water quality management is an example of steps being taken by the Northwest Georgia Regional Water Resources Partnership to reduce nutrient loading to streams in the region and negotiate TMDL solutions between point source and non-point source pollution. Partnership members have successfully funded eight USGS flow gages to provide data to be used in conjunction with water quality data from watershed assessments to calculate nutrient loads. The results for these activities would then be available for incorporating into a model that evaluates the value of implementation methods. The regional approach has the vision to provide information necessary to establish the framework for water quality trading that could provide incentives for non-regulated stakeholders under the CWA to implement BMPs. This project encompasses a watershed that has a significant impact on the quality and quantity of water flowing through Georgia into Alabama. The Coosa River Basin is located in northwest Georgia, encompasses approximately 4,579 square miles, and contains three main tributaries, the Coosawattee, the Oostanaula, and the Etowah, which join to form the Coosa River at Rome, Georgia. Within the watershed are three major reservoirs: Carter's Lake, which impounds the upper Coosawattee, Lake Allatoona, formed from Allatoona dam near Cartersville, Georgia, and Lake Weiss, which is on the Coosa River along the Alabama-Georgia state line. Georgia EPD, with the assistance of the project partners, will develop a framework for developing water quality trading credits in the Etowah and Coosa River Basin. This will include setting credits for various landuses and different levels of BMPs. For example, developers should be able to calculate the cost/benefit of implementing LID practices and selling urban water quality credits or of implementing practices short of the minimum and buying water quality credits. This framework may allow water quality trading between developers, in which case it is a trade between two non-point sources. The trading framework may also allow trades between point sources (wastewater treatment facilities, WWTF) and agricultural or urban nonpoint sources. In this case the WWTF would be the buyer and the agricultural or urban source the seller. A third type of trade to be considered is between point sources. In these cases, it may be more economical for one treatment facility to purchase water quality credits from another facility. Water quality trading may be used to implement TMDLs by developing a mechanism that provides incentives for the non-regulated community to reduce nonpoint source pollutant loads. This will help protect and restore water quality in the Coosa River Basin, a priority watershed.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2007-10-01

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