The Georgia Section of the American Water Works Association (GAWWA) is dedicated to providing resources for knowledge, information, and advocacy to improve the quality and supply of water in Georgia. GAWWA advances public health, safety and welfare by uniting the efforts of the entire water community. Through our collective strength of 1,103 members in Georgia, we can become better stewards of water for the greatest good of the people of Georgia.
The objectives of this Section are to promote public health, safety, and welfare through the improvement of the quality and quantity of water delivered to the public and the development and furtherance of understanding of the problems relating thereto, as noted in the AWWA Articles of Incorporation.
The Section shall further the dissemination of information and the advancement of knowledge in the areas of design, construction, operation, and management of utilities rendering water service to the public and shall promote the further study, experimentation, and research, and the publication of the results thereof, in the areas of water distribution, water purification, conservation, and development of water resources, and water utility management, together with the usual related activities of a scientific and educational society serving the public interest.
Many cities in the southeastern states had both water and electric departments in the early 1900’s. This lead to the formation of the Tri-State Water and Light Association in 1911, with 58 charter members from the states of Georgia, North and South Carolina. This organization was so successful that it expanded in 1923 to include the states of Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi. The organization changed its name to the Southeastern Water and Light Association. One third of this membership was from Georgia.
In 1925 the Southeastern Water and Light Association applied for and received “Affiliate” membership in AWWA. Several states had formed Sections by this time including North Carolina and Tennessee. They were joined by Kentucky and Florida and following year. Despite some reluctance on the part of several charter members, who preferred that the Southeastern Water and Light Association remain an independent association, a decision was reached at the 1928 meeting to make application to AWWA for the formation of a new Section compromising South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi to be known as the Southeastern Section AWWA, H.F. Wiedman of Georgia was the first President of the Southeastern Section. The Section quickly grew in both membership and services offered. In 1947, Alabama and Mississippi elected to withdraw from the Southeastern Section and form the Alabama-Mississippi Section. The states of Georgia and South Carolina continued as the Southeastern Section for forty successful years. Paul Weir represented the Section as the President of AWWA in 1956, and the Section hosted the Annual Conference in 1980.
The Southeastern Section formed a committee in the 1980’s to study realignment of the Section. There were various reasons that a majority of the Section’s membership wanted to split and form a separate Georgia and South Carolina Sections. It was decided by the realignment committee to put the question of separate Section to a vote of the membership, and it overwhelmingly passed. The new Section became official on January 1, 1988. The Section met jointly in 1988 and 1989, but as separate Sections with a set of officers for each. The treasury split 65% for Georgia and 35% for South Carolina which represented the membership for each state.
Some worried about the future success of the separate Sections, but each has successfully grown and thrives today. South Carolina has had two members elected Vice President and one as President of AWWA, and Georgia has had a member elected for Vice President and the President of AWWA. The Sections have grown in number and influence. The future is unlimited.
The Georgia Section formed a cooperative agreement with Georgia Water & Pollution Control Association (GW&PCA) in 1990. Since 1990 the Georgia Section and The Georgia Association of Water Professionals (GAWP) (formerly GW&PCA) have worked together on issues vital to the drinking water industry in Georgia. The Georgia Section works cooperatively with GAWP to advocate for the drinking water industry and promote the value of water.
Locally, Georgia Section AWWA strives to promote public education on water resources and the value of water. The Section started the Public Education Award in 1999, now given by GAWP. GAWWA believes in leading through example, and has itself received eight consecutive annual awards (1998 through 2006) from AWWA for Section education initiatives.
The Georgia Section also provides support through the Water for People Committee with activities designed to raise awareness and funds for communities that lack access to drinking water, adequate sanitation, and hygiene education.