The governing authorities of Henry, Newton, Rockdale and Walton counties will meet next week to discuss the findings of a feasibility study conducted to explore the possibility of implementing a regional stormwater management program.

The boards of commissioners from each of the jurisdictions will gather at the Newton County Courthouse at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, December 15, and key staff members from the respective counties will present a concept briefing on a potential four-county stormwater agency. The staffers have been working together since early this year after the four counties adopted a memorandum of understanding to jointly and formally explore the idea. Following the staff presentation and discussion among the elected officials, the boards will vote on whether to continue moving forward with the concept.

The multi-jurisdictional stormwater management program, which would be the first of its kind in the nation, would require state legislation to create a regional stormwater agency. Officials from the four counties believe there are many potential advantages to managing stormwater regionally. Their mutual goal is to protect surface and ground water resources in all four jurisdictions in the most effective and efficient manner possible. Recognizing that the natural boundaries of these resources do not end at county lines, the four counties felt compelled to explore transcending political boundaries to address the environmental challenges they all face.

Additionally, working together may prove to be a more cost-effective approach for each of the counties to meet state and federal water quality and stormwater pollution standards. By focusing their various stormwater programs under one synergistic agency, they see the potential to save money through economies of scale and reduced duplication. Moreover, a regional program will result in greater availability of state and federal funding resources to supplement local funding.

Special guests expected to attend next week’s meeting include the head of the state Environmental Protection Division (EPD) and the assistant director of the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG). Both EPD Director Carol Couch and ACCG’s Ross King pledge their support of the four counties’ efforts. Couch noted that counties throughout the state and the nation could benefit from an example of a successful regional stormwater program.

Before the boards of commissioners begin formal business, the meeting will begin on a more entertaining note with an educational puppet show, presented by Newton County’s Clean and Beautiful director, illustrating the importance of proper stormwater management.

The public and the media are encouraged to attend.