Water coalition names ‘Dirty Dozen’ of Georgia’s waterways

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The Georgia Water Coalition has released its annual “Dirty Dozen” list of what it considers to be the 12 most prominent threats to the state’s water quality.

The environmental group included a massive Ogeechee River fish kill and two expensive reservoirs planned for the North Georgia area on their list of water quality problems.

“The sites populating this list are only poster children for the larger problem of a system that is failing to protect our water, our fish and wildlife and our communities,” said coalition member Jerry McCollum, president of the Georgia Wildlife Federation.

The waterways on the list –

Ogeechee River:  An estimated 33,000 fish were killed in this South Georgia river last May.  The EPD (Environmental Protection Division) later determined that King America Finishing Co. had discharged toxic substances into the river from one of its manufacturing facilities.  EPD subsequently signed off on a controversial settlement that requires King America to pay out $1 million for environmental projects, when the company could have been fined as much as $90 million.

Altamaha River:  The water coalition alleges that a pulp mill in Jesup has been discharging noxious waste into the Altamaha for several years.

Savannah River:  The coalition says the proposed deepening of the Savannah harbor, a primary objective of Georgia’s economic development officials, would harm freshwater wetlands and degrade the quality of Savannah’s drinking water.

Chattahoochee River: The coalition criticized EPD for not sufficiently monitoring the discharge of treated sewage into the river.

Shoal Creek and Flat Creek:   Reservoirs that would have a combined cost of nearly $1 billion are planned for Flat Creek in Hall County (the Glades Reservoir) and Shoal Creek in neighboring Dawson County.  The coalition contends the reservoirs are too expensive and that water needs could be met more cost-effectively through conservation programs at existing reservoirs.

Oconee and Ogeechee Rivers: The coalition says that airborne mercury from a coal-fired power plant proposed for construction in Washington County will degrade the water quality of both rivers.

Flint River:   EPD was criticized for allowing too much water to be withdrawn from this river in southwest Georgia.

Coastal Wetlands:  An excess of development and construction is threatening the state’s coastal marshlands.

South Georgia Wetlands:  State and federal regulatory agencies were criticized for allowing the destruction of more than 200,000 acres of wetlands to increase timber production and agricultural yields.

Broad River:  EPD was criticized for not acting on threats to this river from agribusiness waste products.

Brier & Commissioner Creeks:  EPD was criticized for not identifying the cause of a fish kill in these two Wilkinson County creeks.

Coosa River:  The coalition cited the environmental impact of Georgia Power’s coal-fired Plant Hammond generation facility, particularly in the area of water withdrawals for cooling purposes.

© 2011 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: endangered waterways , EPD , Georgia Water Coalition