For the past three decades, a battle between the states of Alabama, Florida and Georgia has been raging on over control of precious water resources in what has become known as the “tri-state water wars.”
“Two years ago, the original Special Master on the case stated that the state of Georgia doesn’t monitor its water usage very well,” said Laura Perry Johnson, associate dean for University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. “This year, that note was removed as the state now does an amazing job of tracking water usage.”
Johnson said UGA Extension has strengthened its water resource education program by adding new personnel and new programs. By creating the Agricultural Water Efficiency Team (AgWET) to improve the state’s agricultural water use efficiency, “UGA has become a leader in the development of innovative irrigation efficiency tools, techniques and technologies.” The team includes 16 UGA faculty from various disciplines in partnership with Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District experts, 14 UGA Extension agents, four crop consultants and 53 farmers.
“UGA Extension works diligently with Georgia’s ag community to deploy these innovations across the state, particularly in southwest Georgia, which has become the focal point of the court case,” Johnson said.
The AgWET program has increased the adoption of innovative and efficient practices and technologies which are in-turn passed down to help farmers better schedule irrigation, provide a better understanding of why they may need to use these tools to help schedule their irrigation, and increases their water-use efficiency through the use of soil-moisture sensors and smartphone apps.
Helping farmers use water wisely has long been a part of extension’s mission, but UGA Extension helps urban Georgians use water wisely, too. Just over a year ago, Rolando Orellana was named the urban water management agent in the UGA Center for Urban Agriculture. He works with green industry leaders and teaches urban extension agents how to help their clients to manage water wisely in the landscape, especially through irrigation systems. The agents offer workshops to golf course managers, sports field managers, landscape installers, landscape managers, groundskeepers, garden curators and others. They are also training UGA’s Master Gardener Extension Volunteer force to lead irrigation usage workshops.
As the AgWET teams continue to research for more innovative and efficient practices around the globe, Georgia will continue to thrive in a new era of water monitoring efficiency to protect the valuable water resources.
 Dowdy, Sharon. “UGA Extension helps Georgia improve water usage efficiency.” Albany Herald, 23 Mar. 2020, https://www.albanyherald.com/features/uga-extension-helps-georgia-improve-water-usage-efficiency/article_0e2aa166-6d34-11ea-a242-3b11951b15d2.html
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