The Georgia Water Coalition released its annual Dirty Dozen report this week, highlighting the politics, policies and issues that threaten the health of Georgia’s waters.
Comprised of more than 250 conservation and environmental organizations, hunting and fishing groups, businesses, and faith-based organizations, the Georgia Water Coalition has been working collectively to protect Georgia’s waters since 2002. For the past eight years, the Coalition has published the report as a call to action for Georgia citizens, and to urge leaders at the state and local level to enforce laws intended to protect waterways and communities statewide.
For the 2018 Dirty Dozen, SELC Senior Attorney Bill Sapp nominated attacks at the federal level to dismantle clean water protections and the risks that action would pose to Georgia’s rivers, streams and wetlands, and highlighted the controversial proposed groin on Sea Island as a significant threat to Georgia’s coastal resources and wildlife.
Other issues highlighted in the 2018 Dirty Dozen report include:
- The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Board’s decision to approve rollbacks to state water quality protections that favor industrial polluters over the health of statewide waterways.
- The proposed Spaceport in Camden County, which would allow rockets to launch over the homes of nearby residents, the Cumberland Island National Seashore and numerous other sensitive ecological areas on the Georgia coast.
- A legislative loophole passed last year by the Georgia General Assembly encouraging out-of-state coal ash to be sent to Georgia landfills, putting communities and their drinking water at risk.
Budgeting for the state’s environmental protection efforts also comes under fire in the report. Despite growing state revenues, funding for Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division has remained stagnant. In the 2019 budget, the agency received 21 percent less state funding than it did in 2005, after taking into account inflation.
“Clean water is essential if we want Georgia to remain a desirable place to live, work, and raise families, and our leaders must recognize that any actions that put those resources in jeopardy have real effects on the ground,” said SELC Senior Attorney Bill Sapp. “With cash-strapped state agencies and a lack of enforcement at the local level, more than ever we need critical federal protections for Georgia’s waterways and the businesses and industries that depend on clean water.”