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Basic Info
Please note that as of JULY 1, 2018, administration of the WaterFirst program has moved to GEFA. 

The new WaterFirst website may be found at https://gefa.georgia.gov/waterfirst.  The DCA WaterFirst web page will remain active during the transition, but will cease to exist in the near future. As a WaterFirst Community, a municipality is eligible for financial and other benefits from the state. Becoming a WaterFirst community demonstrates a local government's commitment to responsible water stewardship for environmental and economic benefits today and in the future.

WaterFirst is:

  • A voluntary partnership between local governments, state agencies and other organizations working together to increase the quality of life in communities through the wise management and protection of water resources
  • Thinking beyond political boundaries, recognizing the inextricable links created by shared water resources, and considering the watershed as a whole
  • Pursuing and rewarding environmental excellence beyond what is required by law in the management and protection of water resources
  • An important step that communities can take to protect valuable water resources for both environmental and economic benefits today and tomorrow.

PEM staff will determine a community's readiness for an on-site review; either through the WaterFirst application or the WaterFirst class, and a team of water professionals will audit the local government’s pertinent programs.  If the review team gives a passing grade, the Department will designate the community.  At that time the designated community is eligible for the following benefits:

  • State-wide recognition for environmental stewardship.
  • An interest rate reduction on loans made from GEFA's Georgia Fund.
  • Eligibility for annual applications to the Community Development Block Grant fund for water-related projects.
  • Priority for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources 319 Grant Program.