Leading Water Protection Coalition Announces Clean Water Heroes
Thursday, September 28th, 2017
Georgia’s leading water protection coalition named its “Clean 13” for 2017. The report highlights individuals, businesses, industries, non-profit organizations and state and local governments whose extraordinary efforts have led to cleaner water in Georgia.
“Around the state, businesses and communities are making a difference for clean water,” said Joe Cook, advocacy and communication coordinator with Coosa River Basin Initiative, a Georgia Water Coalition member organization. “These may seem like small projects, affecting just an isolated area, but together they add up to big improvements for our water and communities.”
In northwest Georgia, fish and fishermen are coming back to Raccoon Creek thanks to a multi-year, multi-million dollar project of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and private partners. While other creeks spill loads of mud and dirt into the Etowah River, Raccoon Creek, in Paulding County, regularly runs clear. As portions of the creek are restored, rare fish like Etowah and Cherokee darters thrive.
In urban Atlanta, years of rapid growth polluted the Chattahoochee and other rivers. Communities downstream bore the brunt of cleaning up this contaminated water. Now, multiple businesses, governments, and community groups in the metro area are preventing this pollution at its source by cleaning up urban creeks.
The City of Atlanta recently adopted one of the most far-reaching stormwater ordinances in the country. So far, the city has approved more than 3,500 projects to control polluted runoff. Rain gardens, porous pavement, rainwater cisterns and other pollution controls can be seen all around the city. These green infrastructure projects help keep polluted rainwater from entering streams.
The Georgia Institute of Technology built multiple projects that collect rainwater and keep pollution out of nearby Tanyard Creek, and the non-profit South Fork Conservancy is building trails along and restoring the banks of the North and South Forks of Peachtree Creek. By cleaning up the smaller streams that flow into the river, these projects improve the overall health of the Chattahoochee River.
In southwest Atlanta, the Chattahoochee gets another boost at the Cox Enterprises-owned Manheim vehicle remarketing facility. The company details some 68,000 vehicles every year and recycles 60 percent of the water it uses. This means less water has to be pumped from the Chattahoochee to meet metro Atlanta’s water needs.
Elsewhere around the state, entities big and small are making a difference. In the far northeast corner of the state, Ladybug Farms, a small sustainable farm in Rabun County, uses a massive rainwater catchment system to water its crops. The farm now promotes similar systems to other farmers and gardeners.
Down south in Waycross, the Cleveland-Georgia based Storm Water Systems helped Waycross officials solve a river litter problem. The company installed an in-stream trash trap for the city that captures thousands of pounds of trash annually. The trash is cleaned out and sent to a landfill, keeping the Satilla River and Georgia’s coast cleaner.
On the Altamaha River near Baxley, the Scott Bridge Company used thoughtful bridge design and construction to protect endangered fish and mussels.
In Columbus, as well as other locations around the state, the shipping giant United Parcel Service (UPS) has gone above and beyond state stormwater control requirements. UPS installed pollution controls to protect tiny streams like Roaring Branch at its distribution hubs.
In the heart of the state, the Macon Water Authority used innovative pipe repair to help protect the Ocmulgee River.
Meanwhile, a little company in Decatur called Solar Crowdsource helped small businesses and homeowners invest in solar power projects. These clean energy projects reduce Georgians' reliance on polluting and water guzzling fossil fuel plants.
Individuals are doing their part as well. At the state capital, Rep. John Meadows, the powerful chairman of the House Rules Committee, led the effort to update state policy on oil and gas drilling. Chairman Meadows’ legislation will ultimately help protect the state’s drinking water from risks associated with fracking. And, in southwest Georgia, Mark Masters of the Georgia Water Planning & Policy Center provides data and facts to shape state water policy.
Together, the efforts of these “Clean 13” are adding up to cleaner rivers, stronger communities and a more sustainable future for Georgia.
The Georgia Water Coalition publishes this list not only to recognize these positive efforts on behalf of Georgia’s water but also as a call to action for our state’s leaders and citizens to review these success stories, borrow from them and emulate them.
Honorees will be recognized at a celebration on March 8, 2018 from 6:30-9:30pm at the Mason Arts Center in Atlanta. The event will be chaired by Stephanie Stuckey, Chief Resilience Officer, 100 Resilient Cities pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation; Office of Resilience, City of Atlanta. To learn more about the event and purchase tickets, visit https://www.gawater.org/clean-13.