Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District makes Clean 13

The Clean 13 report highlights individuals, businesses, industries, nonprofit organizations and governmental agencies “whose extraordinary efforts have led to cleaner rivers, stronger communities and a more sustainable future for Georgians.”

ATHENS — The Georgia Water Coalition has released its Clean 13 report for 2019, which includes one entity from southwest Georgia.

The report highlights individuals, businesses, industries, non-profit organizations and governmental agencies “whose extraordinary efforts have led to cleaner rivers, stronger communities and a more sustainable future for Georgians.”

Among them is the Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District in Camilla for helping lead the way toward more sustainable agriculture in the heart of Georgia’s breadbasket.

“The Flint River Soil and Water Conservation is thrilled to be recognized for our work in agricultural irrigation efficiency in southwest Georgia,” Marty McLendon, chairman of the district, said. “Our strong relationships with researchers, innovative trailblazers in the industry, producers and landowners allow the district to implement new technologies on farms throughout the region, improving economic and environmental sustainability of agriculture in Georgia.”

The group is responsible for bringing millions of dollars in private and public funds to improve irrigation efficiency impacting some 13 million acres of cropland in the area.

“Georgia is faced with many water challenges involving problems that effect the health of our rivers and the availability of clean water for us and wildlife,” Jesse Demonbreun-Chapman, executive director with the Rome-based Coosa River Basin Initiative, said. “Those recognized in the Clean 13 report are on the front lines of meeting those challenges.

“From innovative wastewater treatment projects to important clean water education efforts, these entities are developing solutions to these challenges.”

Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, also recognized in the Clean 13, is meeting the challenges of managing stormwater to protect intown, downstream neighbors. It employs multiple green-infrastructure projects. Similarly, the Georgia Association of Water Professionals, a trade group based in Marietta and most closely associated with training water and wastewater treatment plant operators, has also turned its attention to stormwater.

The association is filling a void by offering classes and workshops to teach water managers and local governments across the state how to implement green infrastructure projects.

At the Flint River Working Group in Fulton, Clayton, Fayette, Spalding and Coweta counties, also among the Clean 13, stakeholders ranging from conservation groups to local water authorities have teamed up as the Upper Flint River Working Group. Working cooperatively, the group is developing projects that will restore flows on the Flint.

Walton Electric Membership Corporation in Monroe is also recognized for addressing climate change and the need for clean energy through approaches that make solar power more accessible to customers. With 4,000 solar customers already, Walton EMC is expected to show more solar growth per customer than any other power provider in the Southeast during the next three years.

Gwinnett County Department of Water Resources was noted as well for using restaurant and food waste in the form of fats, oils and greases to generate power for F. Wayne Hill Water Resources Center. Terrapin Beer Company in Athens is meanwhile doing its part to protect the city’s drinking water sources in the Middle and North Oconee rivers.

One of the largest craft brewers in the state, Terrapin is setting an example for other small breweries by reducing its water use and ensuring that its waste streams find new life as animal feed and compost.

In July, the Fulton County Commission became the first local governing body in Georgia to take a stand against plastic pollution, adopting a resolution aimed at eliminating single-use plastics in all government properties — earning them a spot among the Clean 13.

Truck Carlson in Augusta, a 30-year Marine and Army veteran Truck Carlson of Savannah Riverkeeper, is enlisting the area’s large veteran population in protecting the Savannah River from plastic pollution. Carlson and his Veterans for Clean Water volunteers regularly clean litter traps on the city’s urban streams to remove plastics before they reach the big river.

Georgia ForestWatch in Dahlonega is among the Clean 13 for more than 30 years of advocacy work by the Dahlonega-based Georgia ForestWatch. The Len Foote Hike Inn in Dawsonville is also noted for its smart water and energy use and waste reduction.

Amerson River Park in Macon-Bibb County has transformed the region’s relationship with the river. Rep. Debbie Buckner of Talbot County is among the Clean 13 for voicing out for Georgia’s water and natural resources.

The entities and individuals recognized in the report will be honored at the Georgia Water Coalition’s Clean 13 Celebration set for March 12, 2020, at Mason Fine Art Center in Atlanta.

The Georgia Water Coalition is a consortium of more than 260 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 thousands of Georgians.

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