With its annual “Dirty Dozen” rivers list, the Georgia Water Coalition aims to send a wake-up call to state residents before their fresh waters are overtaken by human waste, dredging and neglect.
The Ogeechee, Altamaha and Savannah rivers topped the 2011 list, which the consortium of more than 180 conservation and environmental organizations released on Nov. 5.
“It was no surprise that the Ogeechee made the list because we had the biggest fish kill in Georgia history,” Ogeechee Riverkeeper Dianna Wedincamp said. “What I like about the ‘Dirty Dozen’ is it gives us a little bit more help getting the word out about how many offenses are happening to Georgia’s waters, and how the state is underfunded and cannot do their job to protect the rivers in Georgia.”
Coming in at No. 1, the group cited five years of King America Finishing Co. discharges into the Ogeechee without state knowledge or approval. In May, an estimated 33,000 fish perished due to a bacterial disease caused by environmental distress as a result of the textile company’s discharge.
Though the river was restocked in October, the Ogeechee Riverkeeper group asserts the state Environmental Protection Division has not done enough to prevent or undo the damage.
Wedincamp said a lack of political will to enforce the laws and protect communities whose livelihoods depend on the rivers is to blame.
Read more in the Nov. 12 edition of the News.