Group identifies troubled waters in Georgia

The Georgia Water Coalition on Wednesday named its annual “Dirty Dozen” list of what the group called some of the worst offenses to the state’s waters.

The coalition, a group of 228 conservation and environmental organizations, said the list is not ranked in any particular order. It names endangered areas across the state and the reasons they are under threat, including what the group said was inadequate state funding, a lack of political will to enforce existing protections and misguided policies.

Despite the problems, which include at least five locations previously named by the group in years past, members recognized one “good news” issue for the state: Gov. Nathan Deal’s continued opposition to a proposed 360-mile petroleum pipeline to carry fuel along the Savannah River from Augusta to Savannah.

“We issue this report as a call to action for the citizens of Georgia and our state and federal leaders,” said Joe Cook of the Coosa River Basin Initiative, which is near one of the sites on this year’s list:

1. Cooper Creek: timber harvest to muddy mountain streams

2. Georgia’s stream buffers: confusing state law leaves some streams without protection

3. Chattahoochee River: Environmental Protection Division water grab threatens health of state’s most critical water supply

4. Georgia’s hazardous waste sites: toxic legacies pose public health risk

5. Chattahoochee River: Chattahoochee tubers’ trash draws ire of riverfront landowners

6. Altamaha River: Rayonier pulp mill fouls Altamaha; state allows pollution to continue

7. Georgia’s coast: offshore drilling poses threat to coastal tourism, fisheries

8. Coosa River: power plant killing fish on the Coosa

9. Little Satilla Creek and Penholloway Creek: strip mine threatens property values, water in Wayne County

10. Withlacoochee River and Floridan Aquifer: gas pipeline invasion in southwest Georgia risks drinking water

11. Georgia’s groundwater: legislative inaction leaves well water at risk

12. Bear Creek: reservoir deal in Newton County a boondoggle for taxpayers

The Newton County Board of Commissioners voted last month to stop work on the planned reservoir after spending 15 years and at least $20 million in taxpayer. The commissioners took the vote when they realized they could not convince federal regulators they needed it.

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