This study represents the first of a multi-stage project for assessing the physical and economic feasibility of using Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) technology as a means for offsetting water use by new industry in Southwest Georgia. Water quantity in the Flint River Basin is a critically important issue. As a result of water scarcity, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) may decide to permanently cap water use permits in the Basin at present levels. This very preliminary exploration of the potential use of ASR technology suggests considerable promise for this technology to serve as a means for enhancing water supplies for municipal and industrial (M&I) uses in the Flint River Basin. Our findings should, at a minimum, serve to stimulate interest on the part of local governments in Southwest Georgia in the possibility of establishing a Regional Authority that manages an ASR system that would provide a means by which the region can take its water future in its own hands. Growth, as it relates to access to water, would be locally controlled. The viability of the use of ASR technology must be decided by a regional authority whose decisions will be guided not solely by direct system costs but also by considerations related to the benefits of allowing for the region to accommodate the water needs of new industry and business. In this regard, consideration of such things as job creation and impacts on local tax bases will be of primary importance. The second phase of our ASR research will shed more light on these issues.
In this report, we also consider the potential feasibility of using ASR technology to offset agricultural water use. Our preliminary findings in this regard are much less promising in strict economic terms than those related to M&I uses. However, further analyses of long-term social benefits associated with accumulated aquifer storage could change these results. Analyses of these and related topics will be forthcoming in the second phase of this research. Working Paper Number 2005-004