Georgia’s leading water protection group recently named its “Dirty Dozen” for 2013, highlighting 12 of the worst offenses to Georgia’s waters.
The annual Dirty Dozen report shines a spotlight on state policies and failures that ultimately harm Georgia property owners, downstream communities, fish and wildlife, hunters and anglers, and boaters and swimmers.
“The Dirty Dozen is not a list of the most polluted water bodies in Georgia, nor are they ranked in any particular order,” said Joe Cook, riverkeeper and executive director at the Coosa River Basin Initiative.
“It’s a list of problems that exemplify the results of inadequate funding for environmental protections, lack of political will to enforce environmental laws and ultimately misguided water planning and spending priorities that flow from the very top of Georgia’s leadership.”
“Over the past decade, the health of Georgia’s waterways and the health and safety of Georgia citizens has been compromised as funding for Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division has not kept pace with population and economic growth,” Flint Riverkeeper Gordon Rogers said.
The problems highlighted in the report include the following:
• Stormwater from industrial facilities polluting a stream flowing into the state’s most important lake (Item 5), largely because there are only two EPD staffers responsible for inspecting and monitoring more than 2,000 industrial sites.
• Aging dams in danger of failing are going without inspection (Item 9); these ticking time bombs threaten life, property and the health of our rivers.
• The priorities of giant corporations are more important than the rights of citizens to fish, swim and boat in clean water (Item 4). While pulp fiber product giant Rayonier enjoyed profits of $411 million in 2012, its paper plant in Jesup continued to foul the Altamaha, as it has done since the 1950s.
• Governor Nathan Deal’s administration continues a pattern of misguided funding priorities that invariably benefit the administration’s political cronies. While EPD’s budget is starved, creating multiple negative effects on Georgia’s citizens, Deal has directed more than $160 million during the past two years to expensive, unnecessary and environmentally damaging dam and reservoir projects (Item 2). These projects serve only to prolong Georgia’s ongoing water conflicts with Alabama and Florida.
“In comparison, funding for the most cost-effective alternatives for growing the state’s water supply — water conservation and efficiency measures — has languished,” Chattahoochee Riverkeeper Sally Bethea said.
“During the past seven years, the state has spent an average of $11 million annually to aid local communities in using their water more effectively — about six percent of what the Deal administration has spent on high-cost, high-risk, speculative water supply projects in just two years.”
“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 state and local tax dollars and restore our streams, rivers, lakes and coastal wetlands,” said April Ingle, executive director of Georgia River Network.
The Georgia Water Coalition is a consortium of more than 200 conservation and environmental organizations, hunting and fishing groups, businesses and faith-based organizations that have been working to protect Georgia’s water since 2002.
Collectively, these organizations represent more than 300,000 Georgians.