Help Protect the Chattahoochee River between Atlanta and West Point Lake
Between Atlanta and West Point Lake, 76 miles of the Chattahoochee River are not currently designated for recreation and are held to a lower protective standard for water quality than both upstream and downstream sections of the river. It’s time to close this gap and recognize the river’s use for recreation from Atlanta to West Point Lake.
We are asking Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division (EPD) to update the Designated Use of the Chattahoochee between Peachtree Creek and West Point Lake (where the Chattahoochee meets the New River) to be consistently designated for “Recreational Use”
Our petition closed on Jan 26, and thanks to your help, we submitted 516 signatures and 245 comments in support of our request to EPD! The agency will review comments and issue their final decision in March. As soon as we have more information, we will share it via our website and social media.
Every three years Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division (EPD) reviews and makes revisions to our state water quality standards with input from the public. During this process, EPD assigns “Designated Use” classifications for different sections of our rivers and streams based on how these waterways are used. Common Designated Uses assigned to rivers in Georgia include Fishing, Recreation, and Drinking Water Supply, and each of these categories is affiliated with specific water quality standards. For example, a section of river whose Designated Use is Recreation is held to a higher water quality standard than a section whose Designated Use is Fishing.
On the Chattahoochee River, different sections are classified with different Designated Uses. From the river’s headwaters in North Georgia until it reaches the City of Atlanta at Peachtree Creek (135 miles), the Chattahoochee River’s Designated Use is Recreation and/or Drinking Water. Below Peachtree Creek, the Chattahoochee’s Designated Use changes to Fishing, and the river’s designation does not include Recreation again until it reaches West Point Lake at the confluence with the New River. This means that nearly 76 miles of the Chattahoochee from Atlanta to West Point Lake are currently held to a lower protective standard for water quality than upstream or downstream of this section.
EPD’s current Triennial Review process is an opportunity to increase protection of the Chattahoochee River downstream of Atlanta by updating this river section’s Designated Use to include Recreation. The agency is currently considering changing a 13 mile portion of this section of river to Recreation, which is good news, but the remaining 63 miles should be granted the same designation (see map). Hundreds of people paddle, swim, and wade in the Chattahoochee between Peachtree Creek and West Point Lake each year, and this section of river is cleaner today than it has been for decades. Middle Chattahoochee communities are reconnecting with the river and should have access to a Chattahoochee held to the same protective standard as the river is both upstream and downstream. Now is the time to update the Designated Use of the Chattahoochee River between Peachtree Creek and West Point Lake to be consistently designated for “Recreational Use.”
Websites for more information
- GA Water Quality Standards and Designated Uses – http://epd.georgia.gov/georgia-water-quality-standards
- EPD’s Triennial Review Process – http://epd.georgia.gov/triennial-review-water-quality-standards