The Georgia Water Coalition this (Tuesday) morning named the planned withdrawal of water from the Apalachee River for an expanded Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir to its 2018 Georgia’s Dirty Dozen list.
The Coalition labeled the proposed Apalachee River water intake “an exercise in overbuilding” and called on the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to turn down the current requests for the intake.
The Georgia Water Coalition’s Dirty Dozen report does not list the most polluted places in Georgia but rather highlights the “politics, policies and issues that threaten the health of Georgia’s water and the well-being of 10 million Georgians,” the news release issued today states.
Included on the list in addition to the Apalachee River intake are a chemical spill in March in Dawson county north of Atlanta that killed federally protected Cherokee darters and other fish, Gov. Nathan Deal’s silence on proposed offshore oil drilling, and threats to state rivers from coal ash ponds.
The Georgia Water Coalition is an alliance of more than 200 organizations, including the Greater Apalachee River Community, a group of Oconee County and Morgan County residents that organized this year to represent the interests of the Apalachee River.
The Water Coalition released its 2018 Dirty Dozen List in a tele-press conference at 10 a.m. today. A representative of the Greater Apalachee River Community was a participant in the tele-press conference.
Apalachee River Flow
The proposed withdrawal of water from the Apalachee River would take an average 33 million gallons per day from the river at a point where average flows are 126 million gallons per day, the Georgia Water Coalition states in its Dirty Dozen Report.
|Graphic From Report|
“For the Apalachee, the aquatic wildlife it harbors and the people who live along and play in it, this proposed withdrawal creates other problems simply because it is super-sized for such a small river,” the report states.
The Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir is a partnership of Walton County and Oconee County, and neither county needs water from the project at present. For that reason, no treatment plant or distribution system for the reservoir has been built.
The proposed intake facility is on the Apalachee River in Walton County at High Shoals where Morgan, Oconee and Walton counties intersect, just southeast of the city of North High Shoals in Oconee County.
The intake facility would be used to pump water from the Apalachee River to the existing Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir at some unspecified point in the future, thereby increasing the water treatment capacity of a future treatment plant.
The Walton County Water and Sewer Authority last month agreed to purchase land in Walton County just upstream from where SR 186 crosses the Apalachee River and is seeking renewal of its permits with the Corps of Engineers and the state Environmental Protection Division for its withdrawal of water from the river.
The Georgia Water Coalition report notes that the state and federal withdrawal permits were issued in 2004, but the demand for water has changed since that time.
“Hard Labor Creek Reservoir now sits brimming with water that nobody needs or is currently using,” the report says.
Before the 2008 recession, the report notes, “metro Atlanta’s growth seemed unstoppable” and “local governments were scrambling to secure water supplies for their ever-growing populations.”
Initial plans for the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir anticipated selling water to meeting Atlanta’s needs.
The Metropolitan North Georgia Water District now reports that the water needs of the 15-county metro Atlanta area can be met with already planned water sources—which do not include Hard Labor Creek Reservoir, the Water Coalition report states.
Walton County borders but is not part of the North Georgia Water District.
Items Not Ranked
The Georgia Water Coalition did not rank the 12 items on its list.
“From state leaders deceiving citizens and shortchanging environmental programs in the state budget to powerful corporations using their influence to change state policy at the expense of ordinary citizens, this report is as much about dirty politics as it is dirty water,” Jesse Demonbreun-Chapman, executive director and Riverkeeper with the Coosa River Basin Initiative in Rome, is quoted as saying in the news release issued today.
I was invited to but was not able to participate in the tele-press conference today because of a scheduled medical appointment.
Friends of Barber Creek, of which I am past president, is a member of the Georgia Water coalition.
Amy Lanclos, 1670 Gober Road, in Oconee County, represented the Greater Apalachee River Community in the conference.
12 Items On List
The top 12 list is:
*Altamaha River: Department of Natural Resources Board changes clean water rules to defend polluter. (Jesup/Wayne County)
*Apalachee River: Unnecessary drinking water intake threatens flows, fish and property owners. (Walton, Morgan and Greene counties)
*Cumberland Island: Proposed spaceport threatens premiere barrier islands. (Camden County)
*Georgia’s Coast: Shoreline engineering project for luxury development threatens neighboring beaches and wildlife. (Brunswick, Glynn County)
*Georgia’s Coast: Gov. Nathan Deal’s silence on federal proposal to drill for oil off Georgia’s coast betrays coastal communities. (Chatham, Bryan, Liberty, McIntosh, Glynn and Camden counties)
*Georgia’s Drinking Water: Powerful lobbyists secure loophole inviting out-of-state coal ash to Georgia landfills. (Cherokee, Meriwether, Banks, Taylor, Chatham and Charlton counties)
*Georgia’s Public Health: Legislators divert funds intended for clean community programs. (Statewide)
*Georgia’s Streams and Rivers: Legislators fail to protect vulnerable Georgia streams. (Statewide)
*Georgia’s Streams and Wetlands: Federal assault on Clean Water Act threatens Georgia’s water. (Statewide)
*Ocmulgee River, Lake Juliette and Groundwater: Coal ash pond at Plant Scherer pollutes groundwater, threatens nearby surface water. (Monroe County)
*Flat Creek: Chemical spill kills mountain stream and endangered species; highlights weak state oversight of industrial sites. (Dawsonville/Dawson County)
*Savannah River: Nuclear money pit saddles taxpayers, utility ratepayers with billions. (Waynesboro/Burke County)