The Chattahoochee River begins as a tiny stream in north Georgia and flows all the way to the Apalachicola Bay.
- The Chattahoochee River’s name is derived from Creek Indian words meaning “painted rock.”
- The river drains an area of 8,770 square miles and is the most heavily used water resource in Georgia.
- The river arises as a cold-water mountain stream in the Blue Ridge Province at altitudes above 3,000 feet.
- It flows 430 miles to its confluence with the Flint River at Lake Seminole and the Florida border.
- The Chattahoochee River Basin is part of the larger Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) Basin (at the confluence of SW Georgia, SE Alabama and NW Florida).
- The ACF covers 19,800 square miles in the Blue Ridge, Piedmont, and Coastal Plain Provinces.
- The Chattahoochee and Flint rivers’ drainages meet to form the Apalachicola River, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico at Apalachicola Bay.
- Near West Point Lake, the Chattahoochee River defines the state boundaries between Alabama and Georgia.
- The hydrology and water quality of the ACF Basin are influenced by 16 mainstem dams (13 on the Chattahoochee).
- Despite the impact of human activities, the ACF Basin remains biologically diverse, which plays a significant role in sustaining biological productivity in Apalachicola Bay: The basin is home to the largest number of fish species among Gulf Coast drainages east of the Mississippi River.
Where Are You?
THREATS AND CHALLENGES
The Chattahoochee River is one of the smallest river systems in the entire country to provide water supply to a major metropolitan city. This reality compounds the challenges our region faces.
From north Georgia to the Florida line, the Chattahoochee River watershed faces many threats to its chemical, physical and biological health and integrity, including:
- Storm-water and wastewater pollution
- Increased water consumption
- Landscape changes that interrupt natural flow patterns
- A changing climate
Although river health has improved in recent decades, more than 1,000 miles of waterways within the Chattahoochee watershed still do not meet water-quality standards. And that means potential health threats to people and wildlife that come in contact with it.
Meanwhile, government agencies—typically underfunded and understaffed—are often unable to conduct the vigilant monitoring necessary to enforce environmental laws and inform important water-management decisions.
Compounding water-quality problems are human activities that alter the natural hydrology of the watershed. These include:
- Hardened landscapes from impervious surfaces
- Denuded stream buffers
- A complex system of dams, and…
- Water withdrawals
All of these activities have reduced flows in the river system, along with altering the seasonal variability that many fish and wildlife species depend on. Add to that a changing climate, with weather events becoming more extreme, with alternating periods of intense storms and droughts that are damaging to river health and downstream communities.
I’m glad that groups like CRK are taking on the role of education and advocacy. Otherwise the water resources I depend on may not be around for future generations.
– Eric Simpson
New Eden Ecosystem, West Point