Bills Could Pressure Commercial Water Use

By Rutledge Beacham, vice president, Carter

Legislation filed last week would affect commercialreal estate development in 2012 and beyond in the name of water conservation.

The Atlantaregion faces a difficult task in curbing its water usage. Increased waterconsumption, as well as an extended drought from 1998 until 2002, have made itclear that water is a finite resource.

IMG00079-20100212-0945 In terms of water supply, the region is at acrossroads, especially in the face of a federal judge’s ruling last yearstating Lake Lanier could not be used as a water supply for metro Atlanta. InJuly 2009, U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson gave Georgia, Alabama and Floridathree years to agree on water sharing regulations regarding water fromChattahoochee River system.

If an agreement is not reached, withdrawals from Lake Lanierwould revert to 1970s levels. According to the MetroAtlanta Chamber, Atlanta’s water supply would drop by about several hundredmillion gallons a day.For perspective, in 2009 water releases from Buford Dam averaged roughly 710million gallons a day. Based on 1975 operating level, Buford Dam would onlyrelease 387 million gallons a day.

But what, specifically, does the legislation,filed as House Bill 1094 and Senate Bill 370, mean for commercial builders and tenants?

The legislation, which is being championed byGovernor Sonny Perdue, requires efficient water fixtures in all new residentialand commercial construction across Georgia and efficient cooling towers in newindustrial construction. For new commercial multi-unit projects, thebill will require sub-metering enabling units to receive reports on waterusage.

The bills would require low-flow faucets, toilets and other water-savingdevices in all new buildings starting in 2012.

Water conservation is a must, and through theUS Building Council, Energy Star and other organizations that certifysustainable buildings, many of these initiatives are already being implementedand becoming more mainstream.

Carter has been at the fore of this trend,having managed several LEED-certified projects, including 171 17th Street at AtlanticStation.

The bills are sponsored by Senate NaturalResources and the Environment Committee Chairman Ross Tolleson and HouseNatural Resources and Environment Committee Chair Lynn Smith.  

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