Read an interesting article in last week’s Atlanta Business Chronicle titled “The Lawsuit that changed Atlanta” and what caught my eye was that it was about a small non-profit that sued the city over water pollution. And resulted in billions of dollars of investment. How many times a week do I cross the Chattahoochee or its many tributaries and adjoining creeks while driving around the city to show properties and keep appointments? Too many to count and likely not even realizing it!
The Chattahoochee River flows from its headwaters near the Appalachian Trail in North Georgia, southwesterly to Atlanta and through its suburbs. Farther south, it merges with the Flint River and other tributaries to form the Apalachicola River that flows into the Florinda Panhandle and into the Gulf of Mexico via Apalachicola Bay.
The Chattahoochee Riverkeeper has kept watch over these waters since its inception in 1994 when the small non-profit sued the City of Atlanta. For years the city had not maintained its storm and sewer system, which allowed thousands of overflow and spills of untreated sewerage to contaminate creeks, the rivers, and West Point Lake. Poor water quality threatened public health and lowered downstream property values. That and the never ending flow of trash inspired community members to get organized.
The river supplies drinking water to more than 5 million people (~70%) in Metro Atlanta. It also generates electricity, drains wastewater, and provides recreation. The Riverkeeper lawsuit that caused the city spend $2.1 billion on infrastructure not only preserved and maintained better drinking water standards, set the stage for explosive growth. Estimates of $30 billion in new investment have come to Atlanta as a result of fixing the sewer system.
The Riverkeeper’s mission is to ensure there is enough clean water in the Chattahoochee River now and for future generation and they do this by educating, investigating, and advocating. It conducts water sampling and hosts dozens of river clean ups each year. Over 25 years, the Riverkeeper has removed more than 2 milliion pounds of trash from the river. The group has educated more than 70,000 students through its floating classroom program on Lake Lanier and West Point Lake. If you would like to learn more or see how you can get involved, visit the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper website at https://chattahoochee.org/
The Chattahoochee River National Recreation area is a 48-mile long, 10,000 acre long chain of parks that stretch south from the river’s dam at Lake Lanier. In addition to paddling, fishing and boating, the recreational area is known for its many running and hiking trails (both paved and unpaved). If you want to get out and experience some of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area trails near Atlanta, visit Top 10 Faviorite Trails.
- 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).
Atlanta Business Chronicle, May 10-16, 2019