georgia conservancy, ga conservancy, water monitoring

Statewide Water Monitoring

Ocmulgee River
Photo: Ocmulgee River (Pierre Howard)

The issue:
The past two years have been tumultuous when it comes to water quality issues. Continued drought has ignited tensions with our neighboring states and within Georgia. In addition, chemical spills in rivers across the state are threatening the health and quality of life of communities on these waterways and communities that depend on the water to survive.

Most notably, an incident in May 2011 on the Ogeechee River killed more than 38,000 fish, and people reportedly fell ill after coming in contact with the river. The responsible party, King America Finishing, signed a consent order with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) requiring it to complete $1 million in environmental projects along the river. Because the company had concealed its illegal discharge pipe below the surface of the river for several years, the Georgia Conservancy was disappointed that the sanctions were not more severe. We are even more disappointed with a March 2012 ruling stating that local environmental groups cannot challenge the consent order in court.

In another important basin, Rayonier’s ongoing efforts to clean up the discharge from its paper products plant into the Altamaha River are now in their fourth year, with no noticeable improvement of water quality.

Three separate kaolin spills have occurred in Reedy and Brier Creeks, which are tributaries of the Savannah River, in the past several months, and Commissioner Creek in middle Georgia was polluted from yet another kaolin spill.

Our stand:
The Georgia Conservancy strives to find common-ground solutions to the problems affecting Georgia’s environment. We recognize that budget cuts have greatly affected the ability of EPD to monitor thousands of river miles in Georgia. Therefore, we are proposing a statewide enhanced monitoring program that will provide data on both point-source and non point-source pollution. Click here to read more about our idea.

How you can help:
Please sign our online petition calling on state legislators to create a statewide water monitoring network. Our quality of life is directly tied to the quality of our rivers. Do your part to help protect them.

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