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Water Coalition honors state representative with 2014 Clean Water Champion Award

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Georgia State Rep. Lee Hawkins, District #27, was honored with the Georgia Water Coalition Champion Award on June 24, 2014, on the banks of the Chattahoochee's Riverview Landing, in Mableton.

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The state representative was recognized by the Georgia Water Coalition and Paddle Georgia for his support of Georgia's rivers, lakes, groundwater and streams during the 2013 - 2014 legislative session.

Celebrations included stories on how Georgia's political landscape has shaped its natural landscape from the water battles over the Chattahoochee.

Debates involving ownership of drinking water, water protections, and Georgia's rivers, lakes and streams were intense during the legislative session.

House Bill 1085, the Farmer's Private Property Protection Act, was created to protect Georgia's water laws and property rights. The bill never made it out of the House of Representatives Natural Resources and Environmental Committee; however, it did influence Senate Bill 213.

Champion of the cause, Hawkins opened dialogue and supported solutions for problems facing Georgia's natural resource.

"This legislation is the result of the combined efforts of many legislators and concerned citizens. It is representative of good legislation which protects property rights while insuring water quality for future generations. It is a culmination of decisions based on facts and a common sense approach.

"I would like to thank the private individuals who contributed their time and resources and made this legislation possible. I would like to thank my legislative colleagues and legislative staff for the tremendous amount of time and effort they spent crafting this encompassing legislation," Hawkins said.

The state of Georgia is blessed with abundant rivers, beautiful lakes and plentiful groundwater. Protecting these natural natural resources is essential.

"Unfortunately, drought increased consumption and pollution have it clear that Georgia's water is a finite resource that must be protected, this year Rep. Lee Hawkins stepped up and did just that," Director of Environment Georgia and GWC's leadership, Jenette Gayer said.

House Bill 1085, the Farmer's Private Property Protection Act, which was included to protect Georgia's water law and property rights. The bill never not made it out of the House of Representative's Natural Resources and Environment Committee, but it did influence the final version of SB 213, a revision of the Flint River Drought Protection Act.

With a defined augmentation project, the Environment Protection Division, can prohibit certain permittees from withdrawing downstream water. The specified projects are limited to a specific area in the lower Flint River basin for sole purpose of maintaining stream flows at necessary levels to protect habitat and vulnerable aquatic life.

The Georgia Water Coalition is a consortium of more than 200 conservation and environmental organizations, hunting and fishing groups, businesses, and faith-based organizations that have been working to protect Georgia’s water since 2002. Collectively, these organizations represent more than 300,000 Georgians.

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