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UGA forms task force on water use, conservation

UGA forms task force on water use, conservation

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia has formed a task force to recommend ways the university can immediately reduce water use during the current drought, and actions that can be taken to conserve water over a sustained period.

University President Michael F. Adams announced last week that the university would create the task force in response to what he termed “serious” drought conditions in Athens and much of Georgia.

The task force was appointed jointly by Arnett C. Mace Jr., senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, and Tim Burgess, senior vice president for finance and administration. Mace and Burgess said the group will have co-chairs: Kathy Pharr, assistant vice president for finance and administration, and Lonnie Brown, associate professor of law and administrative fellow in the provost’s office.

Mace and Burgess said the task force will identify steps the university should take to meet potential mandated water restrictions in the immediate future should current drought conditions persist. The steps should be “practical actions” that would save two to five percent of current water usage in order to reach a possible reduction of 25 percent.

The task force will also suggest actions to conserve water over a sustained period. Both sets of recommendations will include associated costs.

Mace and Burgess also asked the task force to recommend potential ways UGA can increase its water supply in both the near and long-term. They requested a report from the task force by mid-November.

Record low levels in the Bear Creek Reservoir and Middle Oconee River have forced Clarke, Oconee, Barrow and Jackson counties to implement Level 4 water restrictions including around-the-clock bans on residential outdoor water use. Mace and Burgess said UGA must have a plan should even further restrictions become necessary.

“If we do not receive additional precipitation and/or the move to Level 4 water use does not contribute to significant reductions in water use, then additional restrictions will be implemented by the Athens-Clarke County government and the three other counties served by this water source,” they said. “Given this situation, we believe it is essential to develop plans for water use by UGA.”

In addition to Pharr and Brown, other members of the task force are Katie Bowers, president of the Student Government Association; Adrian Childs, assistant professor of music and chair of the University Council Facilities Committee; Steve Harris, emergency operations manager in the office of Security and Emergency Preparedness; Arthur Johnson, associate director of athletics; Ralph Johnson, associate vice president for physical plant; Jerry Kowalski, executive director of university housing; Denise Mewborn, head of the department of mathematics and science education in the College of Education and chair of the University Council Educational Affairs Committee; Todd Rassmussen, associate professor in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources; Shannon Scott, president of Staff Council; and Pam Turner, assistant professor of family and consumer sciences.