The Georgia Erosion and Sedimentation Act (GESA) is designed to protect vegetated buffers. GESA establishes a minimum undisturbed, vegetated buffer of 25 feet for all streams in Georgia (measured from where vegetation is wrested by normal stream flow). Trout streams, both primary and secondary, require a minimum 50 foot undisturbed vegetated buffer. These buffer requirements are also incorporated into the General Construction Permit. Small trout streams with an annual flow of less than 24 gallons per minute (GPM) are exempt from the buffer requirements. Mining and agricultural activities are exempt from the buffer requirements. Ephemeral streams, streams that flow only during and after wet weather events and do not have a base flow from a groundwater source, are also exempt from buffer requirements. A project may obtain a variance from the Environmental Protection Division (EPD) Director, which will exempt a project from the buffer requirements.
Storm water management ponds, which act as drainage structures, are exempt from the buffer requirements.