Georgia 'Dirty Dozen' water list released

ALBANY, Ga. — The Georgia Water Coalition released its annual “Dirty Dozen” list Wednesday, exposing the 12 worst offenses to Georgia’s water. The Flint River weighed in at No. 4, moving up three places from last year.

While the title of the list implies pollution — and many Georgia waters are polluted — “dirty” for the Flint refers to politicians more than chemicals, and the GWC has its finger pointed squarely at Gov. Nathan Deal.

“This list not only highlights some of the most egregious water pollution problems in our state, but also calls attention to state policies that harm our rivers and waste our tax dollars,” said April Ingle, executive director of Georgia River Network.

According to the GWC, when Deal took office in 2011, he created the $300 million Governor’s Water Supply Program to fund “critical, cost-effective” projects to provide “an adequate supply of clean and affordable water” for communities in need. In August of this year, the Deal Administration released plans for the first $102 million of the program. Most of the money, claims the GWC, went to reservoir projects of dubious need, as well as to businesses and individuals who were supporters of Deal’s gubernatorial campaign.

The GWC accuses Deal of cronyism across the board in the management of Georgia’s water. Regarding the Flint, the group claims Deal accepted a groundwater injection scheme promoted by Deal supporter Joe Tanner & Associates, which received $4.6 million in state funds for the experimental project.

According to the GWC, the Southwest Georgia Regional Commission will pump water from streams and rivers into an underground aquifer to determine if the water can be recaptured. The project will not produce any drinking water for public use and will cost up to $4.8 million for every million gallons of water captured.

The Global Water System Project saw no value in the project and from a possible 100 points for project need, gave none at all to the experiment, GWC representatives said. In part, GWSP presents itself as a worldwide organization providing research to support global assessments of water and the development of adaptation strategies with the appropriate scientific basis.

“It certainly looks like a boondoggle,” said Ben Emanuel, the associate director of American Rivers. “The governor’s water injection plan is speculative. It’s nothing more than an expensive experiment which won’t even provide clean drinking water. More and more we find that projects that protect the taxpayer are the most effective — like water efficiency and conservation.”

The Georgia Water Coalition comprises more than 180 organizations representing stakeholders, including farmers, homeowners, lake associations, business owners and sportsmen’s clubs.

For a complete list of GWC’s Dirty Dozen, including the group’s view on Georgia’s water, go to www.garivers.org/gawater/dirtydozen.htm.