Council seeks state's help with water supply 

Is desalination the way to quench Georgia's deep-down body thirst? The Atlanta City Council seems to think so. On June 19, the Council unanimously approved a resolution calling on Gov. Roy Barnes' office to "create a commission on the study and development of a desalination water plant network." Desalination is a process that removes minerals including, but not limited to, salt from seawater or other water that is otherwise unfit for human use or consumption. There are approximately 7,500 desalination plants worldwide, according to the California Coastal Commission; most of the plants are in the Middle East, with several in California, Florida and the Caribbean.

"The tri-state water bans and annual droughts, coupled with the Justice Department's impatience with a water war between Georgia, Alabama and Florida, says to me it's time we consider another method of clean water," says Councilman Michael Bond, who authored the plan as a means to create a reserve water system throughout the state.

The proposal is not without risk, however. The Coastal Commission cites a number of environmental concerns -- concentrated liquid waste, particularly brine, and increased energy consumption and the heat it generates -- that usually accompany the desalination process. The venture also requires a high outlay in equipment costs.

Barnes will consider the city's proposal along with others during the 2001 General Assembly, says spokeswoman Joselyn Butler. "Water and sewer are going to be a main focus in next year's session, and the governor has a number of people looking at all of the options, not only about water supply but water quality," says Butler. "We will consider the city's recommendations as part of everything else the governor is looking at." The state's next legislative session begins next January.

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