Federal clean water rollback makes the Georgia Water Coalition’s 2017 “Dirty Dozen”

This aerial view shows some of the many wetlands around Savannah, Georgia. (© Robert Llewellyn)

The Georgia Water Coalition recently released its seventh annual Dirty Dozen report which highlights 12 of the worst offenses to Georgia’s waters and serves as a call to action to solve these problems.

While previous years have largely focused on Georgia-specific waterways, the 2017 report also looks at threats to the Peach State’s waters resulting from environmental rollbacks at the federal level and compounded by an under-funded Georgia Environmental Protection Division.

For the 2017 Dirty Dozen, SELC Senior Attorney Bill Sapp nominated EPA’s efforts to gut the Clean Water Rule and the risks it poses to Georgia’s wetlands and streams that contribute to a network of rivers and lakes that Georgians depend on for clean water.

“It’s important from a recreational perspective, a business perspective and an environmental perspective that these systems be viewed as a whole, and protected from their source,” Sapp told the Saporta Report.

Approximately 4.9 million Georgians get their drinking water that are supplied, at least in part, by water sources currently at risk for pollution: small creeks in the northern mountains, cypress domes in the Coastal Plain, and over half the stream miles (56 percent) in the Piedmont.

“Georgians have demonstrated that they are good stewards of the land,” Sapp said. “They appreciate being able to hunt duck and fish for trout, and use paddleboards and canoes, and bird watch. Georgians recognize that for these activities, it’s vital to have clean water.”

EPA is expected to issue a proposed replacement rule early next year, which will then be subject to a 60-day public comment period.

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