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DCA honors county for its water efforts
Forsyth tapped for elite group
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Forsyth County News
Forsyth County has joined a select list of state communities recognized for their water conservation efforts.

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs marked the designation of Forsyth County as a WaterFirst Community in a ceremony Wednesday at the county administration building.

The program, led by the DCA’s Office of Environmental Management, recognizes governments that have demonstrated good water resource stewardship and provide benefits for protecting and managing those resources in the future.

“It is literally the department’s most prestigious group of local governments,” said Mike Gleaton, assistant commissioner of the DCA.

“It’s the highest standard we have as a state agency for a community to achieve in the area of water resource management.”

Since the program’s launch in 2002, Gleaton noted that Forsyth County is just the 18th of about 700 local governments in Georgia to be so honored.

Chosen communities are able to receive technical assistance on water issues from leading state experts and exchange information with other WaterFirst entities in working to continue conservation efforts.

They can also receive financial benefits for water-related projects, including a 1 percent reduced interest rate on loans from the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority.

DCA Commissioner Mike Beatty said Forsyth was selected for several water conservation efforts, including an aggressive conservation pricing rate and water resource educational programming.

It was also recognized for its proactive measures, such as enforcing its tree ordinance and stream buffer setbacks.

Though the federal government may have people feeling pessimistic, Beatty said, “If you want to be an optimist, come to the local level.”

He said Forsyth County was a “top notch” example for other communities.

“WaterFirst reviewers were especially impressed with the coordination among the county departments and their efforts to promote water conservation,” he said.

Charles Laughinghouse, chairman of the county commission, thanked staff for the work they put into achieving the designation.

“We all recognize that by being good environmental stewards today we’re not only helping ensure that we keep these precious resources today or tomorrow, but we make them available for our children and grandchildren in the future,” he said.

Tim Perkins, director of water and sewer, said the county’s uncertainty over water resources may have given it a slight advantage in realizing the significance.

He invited staff to celebrate the award with special “punch,” Forsyth Select water from the county’s Antioch Road water treatment plant.

“We couldn’t think of anything better to do,” he said.