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Georgia Water Coalition issues "Dirty Dozen" river report

The Georgia Water Coalition has issued their “Dirty Dozen” list for 2011, naming the 12 worst offenses to Georgia’s river systems. The Flint ranks seventh on the list with water flow down drastically since 1980, sources say.

The Georgia Water Coalition has issued their “Dirty Dozen” list for 2011, naming the 12 worst offenses to Georgia’s river systems. The Flint ranks seventh on the list with water flow down drastically since 1980, sources say.

ALBANY, Ga. — The Georgia Water Coalition, a consortium of more than 180 conservation, environmental, hunting and fishing groups, has issued a list of what the coalition claims are the worst offenses to Georgia’s river systems.

Dubbed “The Dirty Dozen,” offenses range from a coal-fired plant in northwest Georgia to a pulp mill in the southeast, members say.

“This is more than a list,” said Jerry McCollum, president of the Georgia Wildlife Federation and a founding member of the coalition, “This is a call to action for Georgia’s citizens and its leaders.

Topping GWC’s list of abused water systems is the Ogeechee River, where a textile manufacturing plant in Screven County is alleged to have killed some 30,000 fish.

The Flint River, beginning just south of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport near Atlanta and running through Southwest Georgia and North Florida, is ranked seventh on the list. GWC states that since 1989, low flows on the upper Flint River have declined as much as 70 percent, while flows on the lower Flint have dropped by around 30 percent. According to the coalition, summertime flows are so low “a kayak can’t be floated down the upper reaches of the river,” and several major tributaries in the lower Flint “dry up completely.”

Reasons for the reduced flow, according to GWC, include “out-of-control” permitting practices by the Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division (EPD), agricultural withdrawals and interbasin transfers. Exacerbating the problem, the study contends, is EPD’s failure to conduct a definitive study examining Georgia’s failed “instream flow policy,” which dictates how much water must remain in a river or stream below a dam or municipal or industrial water withdrawal.

According to GWC, the study has not been funded, even though in the 1990s state biologists deemed the instream flow policy to be “inadequate” to protect water resources.

In addition, GWC membership is concerned over EPD’s recent issue of another permit for a reservoir, a water withdrawal permit along the Fayette-Coweta county line and several hundred new permits for agricultural withdrawals.