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Georgia’s Dirty Dozen for 2014

October 27, 2014

Georgia’s leading water coalition named its “Dirty Dozen” for 2014, highlighting 12 of the worst offenses to Georgia’s waters. The Georgia Water Coalition’s annual Dirty Dozen shines a spotlight on threats to Georgia’s water resources as well as the polluters and state policies or failures that ultimately harm—or could harm—Georgia property owners, downstream communities, fish and wildlife, hunters and anglers, and boaters and swimmers.

2014DirtyDozenlogo

The Dirty Dozen is not a list of the most polluted water bodies in Georgia, nor are they ranked in any particular order.  The list of problems exemplify the results of inadequate funding for Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division (EPD), a lack of political will to enforce existing environmental protections, and ultimately misguided water planning and spending priorities that flow from the very top of Georgia’s leadership.  Previous reports can be found here.

All of Georgia’s waters are effected by policy established by state leaders at State Capitol and in state agencies.  Lately, that policy has been as foul as some of the water flowing off Atlanta’s streets, parking lots and dumpster pads after summer thunderstorms.

For example, hundreds of millions in state funds have been funneled into the Governor’s Water Supply Program for dams, reservoirs and other projects of questionable need while state funding for water efficiency has languished.  While a total of $213 million in tax dollars has flowed from the Governor’s Water Supply Program since 2012, funding for water efficiency and conservation has been anemic.  From 2010 through early 2013, the state spent $10.7 million to fund water efficiency projects, and thus far in 2014, $7.8 million has been awarded to communities for projects ranging from replacing leaking water lines to installing more accurate water meters.

Where else could state funds be used effectively?  On the Chattahoochee River, a tip from an east Atlanta resident who observed a black, oil-like substance flowing from an industrial facility near the Chattahoochee River, revealed American Sealcoat Manufacturing, LLC, was discharging oily asphalt material into a stream just 300 yards from the river.  The company is just one particularly egregious example of hundreds of industrial facilities across the state that operate without safeguards to keep pollution out of nearby neighborhoods and our state’s waters.  Georgia law requires these safeguards, but Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division has only two staff members dedicated to keeping tabs on thousands of facilities statewide.

The Sabal Trail pipeline is one example of a potential threat to surface and ground water supplies found in the Dirty Dozen.  The Sabal Trail pipeline’s path across southwest Georgia would require boring underground pipelines beneath the Withlacoochee, Flint and Chattahoochee rivers as well as numerous smaller streams, and will course underground above the Floridan aquifer. While the Sabal Trail pipeline’s parent companies would have residents believe their 3-foot-diameter pipe is a benign neighbor, the history of gas pipeline accidents and environmental ills in Georgia and elsewhere paints a different picture.

The Georgia Water Coalition publishes this annual list as a call to action for our state’s leaders and its citizens to come together to correct pollution problems, eliminate the wasteful use of our tax dollars and restore our streams, rivers, lakes and coastal wetlands.

The Coalition’s full report details the history of each site or example, and provides solutions to correct these ongoing problems and eliminate the listed threats. A short list can be found below. The full report—including updates from previous Dirty Dozen reports—is available online.

  1. Georgia’s Water: State Water Policy Threatens Streams, Aggravates Water Wars, Wastes Tax Dollars
  2. Georgia’s Coastal & Freshwater Wetlands: EPD Refuses to Enforce Clean Water Laws
  3. Floridan Aquifer: State Leaders Drop Well Water Protections to Experiment With Risky Water Injection Schemes
  4. Chattahoochee River: Weakened State Agency Allows Industries to Foul River
  5. Coosa River: Long Delayed State Clean Up Plan Allows Power Company to Continue Polluting
  6. Flint River: Textile Manufacturer’s Pollution, State Water Policy Create Conundrum
  7. Savannah River: Pollutants, Nuclear Reactors Suck Water and Life out of Savannah
  8. Georgia’s Small Streams and Wetlands: National Rule To Protect Georgia’s Streams and Wetland Treasures Under Attack
  9. Withlacoochee River & Floridan Aquifer: Gas Pipeline Threatens Southwest Georgia Water, Way of Life
  10. Turtle River: Toxic Legacy Poisons Dolphins, Drinking Water
  11. Satilla River: Toxic Legacies Threaten Waycross Residents
  12. Little Satilla Creek & Penholloway Creek: Titanium Mine Threatens Wetlands, Well Water

-Chris Manganiello

2014 map copy

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