Coastal Wastewater Planning and Management

Providing information and tools for wise wastewater management on Georgia’s coast

The choices communities make concerning wastewater management impact growth patterns, public and environmental health, and local economies. In coastal Georgia, these choices are particularly meaningful. The region has experienced significant, yet somewhat unpredictable growth, is teeming with sensitive, and primarily aquatic, natural resources important to local economies, and contains many modest communities without robust technical or budgetary capabilities.

Through this project, the RBC provided necessary guidance to help Georgia’s coastal communities understand the myriad effects of wastewater management choices and make wise decisions.  RBC policy experts worked with a large and varied group stakeholders from the coast and beyond, including local elected officials and staff, state and regional agency representatives, nonprofits, professional engineers, planning and technical experts, and others, to develop a suite of recommended management alternatives for communities of all sizes and capacities.  These recommendations are contained in a comprehensive manual, Wastewater Management in Coastal Georgia: A Menu of Options.

Wastewater Management in Coastal Georgia provides a suite of recommendations for coastal communities that cover all aspects of wastewater management.  It is organized into five sections.  The Local and Regional Planning and Funding sections provide recommendations appropriate for all areas of wastewater management, and sections on Wastewater Treatment Plants, Onsite Systems, and Community Systems provide recommendations specific to those types of infrastructure.  Recommendations are centered around Action Items: specific, achievable goals for coastal wastewater management.  Most Action Items include two or more management alternatives: detailed policies or programs to satisfy Action Items. When multiple management alternatives are provided, they progress from those appropriate for smaller communities to those suitable for larger urban areas.  This variety of management alternatives was specifically designed to account for the wide range of community types and capacities on the coast; there is no one-size-fits all for coastal communities and guidance documents that offer singular approaches to challenges or opportunities are frequently underutilized.

An ancillary project, the Coastal Georgia Septage Disposal Study, was also developed pursuant to this project with funding provided by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs via a Georgia Department of Natural Resources Clean Water Act § 319(h) grant.  Septage is the highly concentrated waste that must be periodically pumped from septic and other onsite wastewater systems, and septage disposal is an issue on the Georgia coast.  Through this study, we assessed disposal options on the coast and, using GIS, identified septage disposal “deserts” where disposal options are inadequate.

Funding:  Georgia Sea Grant, $139, 289; Georgia Department of Community Affairs, $7,000

RBC Personnel:  Katie Hill, Laurie Fowler

Partners:  Coastal Regional Commission of Georgia


Publication supported in part by an Institutional Grant (NA14OAR4170084) to the Georgia Sea Grant College Program from the National Sea Grant Office, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.


All views, opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Georgia Sea Grant College Program or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Coastal Georgia is teeming with sensitive, and primarily aquatic, natural resources important to local economies, like the salt marsh pictured here. Photo by Philip Juras.


Click to download Wastewater Management in Coastal Georgia

Click to download Septage Disposal Study