EPD Responds to Dirty Dozen Listing By Proposing Dirty Rule Change

December 4, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jen Hilburn, Altamaha Riverkeeper, [email protected], 912-441-3908
Gordon Rogers, Flint Riverkeeper, [email protected], 912-223-6761

EPD Responds to Dirty Dozen Listing By Proposing Dirty Rule Change

Atlanta, GA—This week, the Board of the Department of Natural Resources will consider changes to a water pollution rule that could harm all of Georgia’s waterways in the interest of industrial polluters.

One week after Rayonier Advanced Materials was listed as a top polluter in the Georgia Water Coalition’s 2017 Dirty Dozen report, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division proposed changes to clean water regulations to allow Rayonier to continue polluting the Altamaha River. The smelly and visible discharge from the facility prevents many community members from swimming and fishing in the area. EPD’s request to change the rule also comes after a state administrative law judge recently ruled that Rayonier AM’s discharge violates existing state water quality rules.  In its letter to the Board of Natural Resources, EPD requested approval for amendments that would re-write the regulation:

“All waters shall be free from material related to municipal, industrial or other discharges which produce turbidity, color, odor or other objectionable conditions which unreasonably [language added] interfere with designated [replaces “legitimate”] water uses.”

These changes would have major ramifications and would apply to all of Georgia’s rivers, lakes and streams. Changing “legitimate” to “designated” would reduce legal protections for activities such as boating and swimming.  The insertion of “unreasonably” would give industrial polluters an additional loophole to weaken citizen enforcement suits.

“Every waterfront property owner in Georgia and every fisherman, paddler, and swimmer should pay attention,” said Gordon Rogers, Flint Riverkeeper. “Your water and your property values are being put in jeopardy by the state agency that is supposed to protect you, but in fact is in the pocket of well-connected, powerful polluters.”

“This isn’t just a simple matter of changing a few words in a meaningless rule—these proposed amendments would gut protections for Georgia’s rivers, streams and creeks across the entire state,” said Jen Hilburn, Altamaha Riverkeeper. “Giving polluters a free pass has already contributed to the degradation of the Altamaha River, and continuing down the path of weaker enforcement does nothing to protect Georgia citizens.”

About the Georgia Water Coalition:

The Georgia Water Coalition is a consortium of over 240 conservation and environmental organizations, hunting and fishing groups, businesses, and faith-based organizations. The Coalition’s mission is to protect and care for Georgia’s surface water and groundwater resources, which are essential for sustaining economic prosperity, providing clean and abundant drinking water, preserving diverse aquatic habitats for wildlife and recreation, strengthening property values, and protecting the quality of life for current and future generations.

 

##

DIRTY DOZEN 2017: Dirty Energy, Dirty Politics Top List

DIRTY DOZEN 2017: Dirty Energy, Dirty Politics Top List

For more information contact:

Joe Cook, 706-409-0128, [email protected]

For more information about specific Dirty Dozen sites view the report at: https://www.gawater.org/resources/dirty-dozen

For Immediate Release Nov. 14, 2017: Today, Georgia’s leading water advocacy organizations released their “Dirty Dozen” for 2017 in a 28-page report highlighting 12 of the worst offenses to Georgia’s waters (https://www.gawater.org/resources/dirty-dozen).

The seventh annual Dirty Dozen report shines a spotlight on threats to Georgia’s water and highlights the polluters and the policies or failures that threaten the health and safety of Georgia’s waters. High on this year’s list are rollbacks to clean water protections that benefit the polluters at the cost of Georgians—a recurring theme since the first Dirty Dozen report was released in 2011.

“This report shows how changing policy in Washington, D.C. is having real pollution impacts in Georgia communities,” said Joe Cook, Advocacy and Communication Coordinator for the Coosa River Basin Initiative in Rome. “Couple those changes with continued lackluster funding for state clean water programs, and you have a one-two punch that, if not a knock out, has some of our rivers and lakes on the ropes.”

After bowing to pressure from energy lobbyists, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has delayed new rules limiting pollution from coal-fired power plants. This delay directly affects the health of Georgia’s waterways and allows toxins like mercury, lead, arsenic and selenium to continue to be dumped into Georgia waterways.

Likewise, the EPA’s decision to redefine what water bodies are protected under the Clean Water Act could leave thousands of miles of Georgia’s streams and thousands of acres of wetlands with no protections.

Meanwhile, at the state level, funding for Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division (EPD), the state agency charged with enforcing clean water laws, remains poor. Since 2005, EPD has seen its appropriations fall while state revenues have grown. Adjusted for inflation, Georgia’s 2017 revenue was $3.3 billion more than in 2005, yet in 2017 EPD received almost 25 percent less support from the lawmakers than it did in 2005.

This underfunding has resulted in prolonged delays to cleanup the Coosa River near Rome as well as other water bodies while also hampering the cleanup of hundreds of hazardous waste sites and illegal tire dumps across the state.

And, all too often, the state defends big business rather than protecting ordinary citizens from pollution. On the Altamaha River, despite court rulings asking EPD to fix noxious pollution coming from the Rayonier Advanced Materials facility in Jesup, the state agency continues to defend its actions and the multinational corporation.

“All Georgians deserve better,” said Jen Hilburn, Altamaha Riverkeeper. “We and other Georgia Water Coalition members should not have to file lawsuits to get our state to enforce clean water laws, but too often through lack of funding or lack of political will, EPD fails to protect us and our water.”

Issues highlighted in the Dirty Dozen report include:

  • Altamaha River: Pulp mill pollution continues, EPD defends polluter. (Jesup/Wayne County)
  • Coosa River: U.S. EPA halts clean water rules for power plants to keep toxic discharges flowing into the river. (Rome/Floyd County)
  • Coosa River: Lack of funding leads to failure to conduct pollution studies and delays river cleanup plan. (Rome/Floyd County)
  • Georgia’s Public Health: Legislators divert funds intended for clean community programs. (Statewide)
  • Georgia’s Streams and Rivers: Legislators stall action to protect vulnerable Georgia streams. (Statewide)
  • Georgia’s Well Water: Disposal of coal ash at ill-suited municipal landfills threatens drinking water. (Statewide)
  • Georgia’s Wetlands: U.S. EPA efforts to gut clean water act leave streams, wetlands without protections. (Statewide)
  • Lake Sinclair: Coal ash pond cleanups send toxins into popular reservoir. (Milledgeville/Baldwin, Putnam, Hancock counties)
  • Savannah River: Natural gas facility poses risk to Savannah, U.S. energy independence. (Savannah/Chatham County)
  • Savannah River: Risky nuclear boondoggle harms rivers, ratepayers and taxpayers. (Waynesboro/Burke County)
  • Terry Creek: Toxic cleanup plan leaves Brunswick residents at risk. (Brunswick, Glynn County)
  • Whitewater Creek: Private reservoir proposal tries to tap into state dollars. (Butler, Oglethorpe and Montezuma/Taylor and Macon counties)

The full Dirty Dozen report and individual contacts for each item listed above are available online: https://www.gawater.org/resources/dirty-dozen

The Georgia Water Coalition is a consortium of more than 240 conservation and environmental organizations, hunting and fishing groups, businesses, and faith-based organizations that have been working to protect Georgia’s water since 2002. Collectively, these organizations represent more than 250,000 Georgians.

Media Advisory: 2017 Dirty Dozen Report Release, November 14

 

MEDIA ADVISORY

CONTACT:  Joe Cook, Coosa River Basin Initiative,

 706-409-0128, [email protected]

Jesse Demonbreun-Chapman, Coosa River Basin Initiative,

706-232-2724[email protected]

Georgia Water Coalition to Release 2017 Dirty Dozen Report

WHEN:  Tuesday, November 14 at 10:00 AM

WHERE:  By tele-press conference. Please RSVP using the following link so that we’ll be able to provide you with information you need for your coverage of the Dirty Dozen report: https://www.gawater.org/blog/2017-dirty-dozen-rsvp

DIAL-IN INSTRUCTIONS: To participate in the tele-press conference on Nov. 14, please use the following call in number: 706-749-7995

WEB PRESENTATION: A slide deck to accompany the call is available and will be updated before the call: https://www.gawater.org/blog/2017-dirty-dozen-report-telepress

WHAT:  On Tuesday, Nov. 14, the Georgia Water Coalition will host a tele-press conference for the release of our 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. Each of the issues in the report will be highlighted and representatives with the Georgia Water Coalition will be on the call to answer questions.

Watering Georgia Report Released By Georgia Water Coalition

On November 8, 2017, the Georgia Water Coalition released a report on the state of water and agriculture in Georgia.  The Georgia Water Coalition’s new report—Watering Georgia: The State of Water and Agriculture in Georgia—highlights the history and economics of irrigated agriculture.  The report explains how the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) issues and regulates 24,000 agricultural water withdrawal permits across the state. Read the report and view the press release at https://www.gawater.org/watering-georgia-report

Clean 13 Telepress Conference Slides and Audio Recording

 

Leading Water Protection Coalition Announces Clean Water Heroes in Inaugural Clean 13 Report

For Immediate Release Sept. 6, 2017

For More Information Contact:  

Joe Cook, 706-409-0128, [email protected]

Nominators and Honoree Contact Information: https://www.gawater.org/clean-13

Leading Water Protection Coalition Announces Clean Water Heroes in Inaugural Clean 13 Report

2017 Clean 13 map

The Georgia Water Coalition’s inaugural Clean 13 Report highlights extraordinary efforts on the part of businesses, industries, local governments, non-profit organizations, and individuals to protect the water and natural resources of Georgia.

Today, Georgia’s leading water protection coalition named its “Clean 13” for 2017. The report highlights individuals, businesses, industries, non-profit organizations and state and local governments whose extraordinary efforts have led to cleaner water in Georgia.

“Around the state, businesses and communities are making a difference for clean water,” said Joe Cook, advocacy and communication coordinator with Coosa River Basin Initiative, a Georgia Water Coalition member organization. “These may seem like small projects, affecting just an isolated area, but together they add up to big improvements for our water and communities.”

In northwest Georgia, fish and fishermen are coming back to Raccoon Creek thanks to a multi-year, multi-million dollar project of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and private partners.  While other creeks spill loads of mud and dirt into the Etowah River, Raccoon Creek, in Paulding County, regularly runs clear. As portions of the creek are restored, rare fish like Etowah and Cherokee darters thrive.

In urban Atlanta, years of rapid growth polluted the Chattahoochee and other rivers. Communities downstream bore the brunt of cleaning up this contaminated water. Now, multiple businesses, governments, and community groups in the metro area are preventing this pollution at its source by cleaning up urban creeks.

The City of Atlanta recently adopted one of the most far-reaching stormwater ordinances in the country.  So far, the city has approved more than 3,500 projects to control polluted runoff. Rain gardens, porous pavement, rainwater cisterns and other pollution controls can be seen all around the city.  These green infrastructure projects help keep polluted rainwater from entering streams.

The Georgia Institute of Technology built multiple projects that collect rainwater and keep pollution out of nearby Tanyard Creek, and the non-profit South Fork Conservancy is building trails along and restoring the banks of the North and South Forks of Peachtree Creek. By cleaning up the smaller streams that flow into the river, these projects improve the overall health of the Chattahoochee River.

In southwest Atlanta, the Chattahoochee gets another boost at the Cox Enterprises-owned Manheim vehicle remarketing facility. The company details some 68,000 vehicles every year and recycles 60 percent of the water it uses. This means less water has to be pumped from the Chattahoochee to meet metro Atlanta’s water needs.

Elsewhere around the state, entities big and small are making a difference. In the far northeast corner of the state, Ladybug Farms, a small sustainable farm in Rabun County, uses a massive rainwater catchment system to water its crops. The farm now promotes similar systems to other farmers and gardeners.

Down south in Waycross, the Cleveland-Georgia based Storm Water Systems helped Waycross officials solve a river litter problem. The company installed an in-stream trash trap for the city that captures thousands of pounds of trash annually.  The trash is cleaned out and sent to a landfill, keeping the Satilla River and Georgia’s coast cleaner.

On the Altamaha River near Baxley, the Scott Bridge Company used thoughtful bridge design and construction to protect endangered fish and mussels.

In Columbus, as well as other locations around the state, the shipping giant United Parcel Service (UPS) has gone above and beyond state stormwater control requirements. UPS installed pollution controls to protect tiny streams like Roaring Branch at its distribution hubs.

In the heart of the state, the Macon Water Authority used innovative pipe repair to help protect the Ocmulgee River.

Meanwhile, a little company in Decatur called Solar Crowdsource helped small businesses and homeowners invest in solar power projects. These clean energy projects reduce Georgians’ reliance on polluting and water guzzling fossil fuel plants.

Individuals are doing their part as well. At the state capital, Rep. John Meadows, the powerful chairman of the House Rules Committee, led the effort to update state policy on oil and gas drilling. Chairman Meadows’ legislation will ultimately help protect the state’s drinking water from risks associated with fracking. And, in southwest Georgia, Mark Masters of the Georgia Water Planning & Policy Center provides data and facts to shape state water policy.

Together, the efforts of these “Clean 13” are adding up to cleaner rivers, stronger communities and a more sustainable future for Georgia.

The Georgia Water Coalition publishes this list not only to recognize these positive efforts on behalf of Georgia’s water but also as a call to action for our state’s leaders and citizens to review these success stories, borrow from them and emulate them.

Honorees will be recognized at a celebration on March 8, 2018 from 6:30-9:30pm at the Mason Arts Center in Atlanta. The event will be chaired by Stephanie Stuckey, Chief Resilience Officer, 100 Resilient Cities pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation; Office of Resilience, City of Atlanta. To learn more about the event and purchase tickets, visit https://www.gawater.org/clean-13

# # #

The Georgia Water Coalition is a consortium of more than 240 conservation and environmental organizations, hunting and fishing groups, businesses, and faith-based organizations that have been working to protect Georgia’s water since 2002. Collectively, these organizations represent more than 250,000 Georgians.

 

Media Advisory: Georgia Water Coalition to Release 2017 Clean 13 Report

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release, August 31, 2017

Contact: Joe Cook, 706-409-0128, [email protected]

Georgia Water Coalition to Release 2017 Clean 13 Report

When: Wednesday, Sept. 6, at 10 a.m.

Where: By tele-press conference. Please RSVP

Dial-In Instructions: 912-226-4313, NO PIN needed

Web Presentation: A slide deck to accompany the call is available at: https://www.gawater.org/clean-13

What: On Wednesday, Sept. 6 at 10:00 am EST, the Georgia Water Coalition will host a tele-press conference for the release of our inaugural Clean 13 Report. This report highlights the extraordinary work accomplished by individuals, businesses, industries, non-profit organizations and state and local governments to protect Georgia’s water.

Entities recognized in the Clean 13 Report include:

  • City of Atlanta—Stormwater management ordinance eliminates pollution.
  • Cox Enterprises—Conservation-minded company recycles water to protect Chattahoochee.
  • Solar Crowdsource—Decatur company brings solar to small businesses and homeowners to protect multiple Georgia rivers.
  • Georgia Department of Natural Resources—State agency restores and protects Paulding County’s Raccoon Creek.
  • Georgia Institute of Technology—Green infrastructure projects transform campus into model for water efficiency, relieve pollution of Tanyard Creek.
  • Ladybug Farms—Rabun County organic farm extols the virtues of rainwater harvesting.
  • Macon Water Authority—Innovative pipe restoration protects Ocmulgee River.
  • Mark Masters—Water Planning and Policy Center Director provides facts to steer Georgia water policy.
  • Chairman John Meadows—Powerful state legislator takes the lead on bills protecting drinking water.
  • Scott Bridge Company—Bridge builder uses design and construction to protect endangered fish and mussels.
  • South Fork Conservancy—Citizens organize $4.5 million restoration and trail project on Peachtree Creek and its forks.
  • Storm Water Systems—Company’s trash traps remove litter from streams, keep it out of oceans.
  • United Parcel Service—Package delivery giant eliminates carbon emissions and stormwater pollution in Columbus and other locations across state.

Please RSVP Here: https://goo.gl/forms/8VQF8iXv6lh6V5Wr2