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”

In January, we submitted a letter to EPD along with a petition of 516 signatures and 245 comments from others asking the agency to make this update (Click Here to Read our Letter to EPD). Unfortunately, the agency declined our request and stated that they will not consider the issue until their next Triennial Review cycle (Click Here to Read EPD’s Response).

We still need your help to keep asking the agency to make this necessary change to the Chattahoochee’s designation. Here are two ways you can help call for increased protections for the river downstream of Atlanta:

  1. Email or mail a short comment to EPD before May 25 to [email protected] subject line “Water Quality Standards Triennial Review” or to: Elizabeth Booth, Watershed Planning and Monitoring Program, 2 MLK Jr. Drive, SW, Suite 1152, East Tower, Atlanta, Georgia, 30334.
  2. Make a statement at EPD’s public hearing on Tuesday, May 22, from 1-3 pm. The hearing will be held at EPD’s Training Center at 4244 International Pkwy, Suite 116, Atlanta, Georgia 30354. (Click here for more information about the hearing).

Suggestions for your comments:

  • Tell EPD that the Designated Use of the entire stretch of Chattahoochee River from Atlanta to West Point Lake should be updated to “Recreational Use.”
  • Explain how you and others use this stretch of river and why it is important for recreation.
  • Focus on the positive aspects of this stretch of river.
  • Personalize your comments. EPD has specifically said that they will disregard form emails.

Background on this Issue

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.

Participants of Paddle GA 2014 exploring the Middle Chattahoochee (Photo by Georgia River Network)

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.”

 


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