At our breakfast meeting, we listened to a complicated and vital presentation showing our water needs and supply on our island. Sean Burgess, the Environmental Manager of the Landings Association, spoke to us on this essential subject.
Sean is a graduate in biology of Lakeland College, Wisconsin. His background is in aquatic biology, and before coming to the Landings he worked as an aquatic biologist for the State of Wisconsin in the Department of Natural Resources. This position required municipal pond and lake management with knowledge of herbicide application, aeration design, aquatic plants, fishery management, and shoreline maintenance and care.

The Landings itself has an array of features with various water needs including 4596 acres within the gates, 151 lagoons, 4155 developed lots, 6 golf courses, 4 club houses with restaurants and 690 common property acres.

The water resources for the Landings are the Floridan aquifer, 400’ – 700’ down, and the Surficial aquifer, 20’ – 60’ down. The former is potable water, the latter is not. Obviously, our 8500 residents need potable water for household use; our yards and our golf courses do not. The puzzle for Sean to address is to get water as needed, from the appropriate source and in adequate quantities to the point where they are needed, and to comply at the same time with the requirements of the state. Further, the state reduced our water allocation by 35% in 2010; it will be reviewed again in 2020. Offering further statistics, Sean told us that our total allocation is 1.695 million gallons per day, and in the Landings 50% of our usage is for irrigation. Sean went on to tell us in detail of the efforts to manage, and reduce, our water usage so as to solve this puzzle.

First, as a result of committee work, a differential rate structure has been put in place, so that the highest household water consumption is much more expensive per gallon than the lower consumption levels. “Hit them in the pocketbook,” Sean said, “behaviors will change.” There has been a major effort to educate residents in matters of conservation, watching indoor use, how/when to water, the use of shallow wells (ie, water from the shallow aquifer), and how to monitor individual household usage. Some of the Landings residents have shallow wells, some do not; this is largely a matter of whether or not the wells were installed on the property when it was developed. For those who do, it is a major advantage, because the water (which comes from the Surficial aquifer and is not potable) is not metered and is therefore free.

The local water supplier, Utilities of Georgia, Inc., a private company, has been proactive in locating leaks, in replacing our old water meters with “cellular automated meters” from which households can access information about their individual household usage on their computers. This also enables Utilities Inc. to issue alerts to heavy users.

Careful attention is paid to our needs for irrigation of our golf courses and other outdoor facilities; dry-tolerant grasses now cover our courses; we conserve as much rainwater run-off as we can through our freshwater lagoons. Our golf courses in 2015 took 53% of their water from shallow wells, 15% from the deep Floridan aquifer, and 28% from our lagoons. About 4% came directly from> So are there solutions to the puzzle? Are we compliant? Can we exist, with all our varying needs met, within the restraints imposed? We have indeed, Sean told us, reduced our irrigation needs some 10% each year since conservation efforts and tier pricing began. However, we have to face some further calls on water – an additional 30 homes per year in the Landings and the likelihood of additional developments on our island. The incidence of droughts and climate change offer further difficulties to be faced. We thanked Sean for his presentation of this complicated problem and fervently hoped for few (or no) years of drought.