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GreenLaw helps protect our natural resources from illegal pollution by utilizing state and federal laws to bring offenders to trial with the support of people like you.
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The Clean Water Act Enforcement Project
Protecting Georgia’s Rivers, Lakes and Wetlands
What GreenLaw does to protect Georgia’s Water
From mountain streams to the coastal sea, more than 70,000 miles of waterways flow through our state. The water from them fills our water glasses, waters our crops, turns turbines to light our homes, and provides countless forms of recreation for all Georgians. Working in partnership with local watershed groups, GreenLaw seeks to protect these natural resources from illegal pollution by utilizing state and federal laws, such as the Clean Water Act.
GreenLaw’s Clean Water Project
GreenLaw addresses these issues each and every day by requiring that developers, industries and the government comply with the laws enacted to protect our valuable water resources. For more information on how to protect Georgia's water resources,
visit our online guide
: The Georgia Watershed Assessment Project - A Citizen's Guide to Fighting Water Pollution in Georgia - or contact us at GreenLaw.
Since its inception, GreenLaw’s Clean Water Project has:
Required developers of a large shopping center to pay $500,000 to the Mountain Conservation Trust of Georgia to protect property in critical habitat areas for federally protected fish species and reduce impacts of the shopping center on streams by 25 percent.
Forced the State of Georgia to clean up ecologically important wetlands that had been filled with dirt from a prison construction site and to restore the property to its original state.
Launched a comprehensive training program with Riverkeeper groups directed at citizens, developers and local officials to ensure compliance with the Clean Water Act on construction sites. More information about this program can be found at
. To schedule a Get-The-Dirt-Out training session in your community, please contact
Senior Attorney Hutton Brown
Secured a fine of a precedent-setting $1 M against a tire-cord manufacturer for discharging excess amounts of cyanide, copper, zinc and lead into the Ocmulgee River.
Forced cities across the state to build new wastewater treatment plants and upgrade outdated plants, dramatically improving the quality of wastewater that enters our rivers.
Prevented almost one ton of plastic from being dumped in the Oconee River each year by a newsprint recycling company in Dublin.
Forced a developer in Swainsboro to protect important water resources adjacent to a Walmart and required the developer to set aside 15 acres of permanently protected wetlands that will protect wildlife in this growing part of the State.
Helped secure a victory in the Georgia Supreme Court in a challenge to Gwinnett County's proposed discharge of 40 million gallons per day of treated sewage into Lake Lanier.
What Causes Water Pollution in Georgia:
Most people are surprised to learn that ordinary dirt is one of the major causes of water pollution in Georgia. Runoff dirt from construction sites clogs rivers and streams, ultimately causing destruction of the habitat as well as land erosion. Dirt also can carry chemicals, or chemicals may be directly dumped by industry into local waters near manufacturing sites The state of Georgia routinely distributes permits to dump toxic waste into local waterways. However, even with so many permits allotted, many companies still exceed the limits set by those permits.
Despite the beauty and diversity of our state’s waterways, two of Georgia’s rivers rank among the country’s worst 20 for the amount of cancer-causing chemicals discharged into them including the Savannah River, which ranks as one of the top ten most toxic rivers in the country. In addition, of the 2087 of Georgia’s waterways that have been assessed so far in 2010, over 52% are too polluted to be used for fishing, swimming and drinking, and 106 lakes and rivers have fish consumption advisories (as of 2010). This result is not surprising as industries and municipal wastewater treatment plants routinely exceed permitted levels of pollution by discharging untreated sewage, high levels of fecal matter and dangerous pollutants such as cyanide, lead and zinc into Georgia’s rivers and lakes. For example, more than 150 municipal and industrial treatment facilities discharge into the Upper Chattahoochee River basin. In 2007 Industrial facilities were responsible for dumping more than 10 million pounds of toxic chemicals into Georgia’s waterways
Georgia’s waterways are threatened by the unprecedented growth that it has experienced over the past twenty years. Home to three of the fasting growing counties in the nation, Georgia has been greatly affected by the construction boom of the past two decades. From 1990-2000 Georgia’s population increased 26%, from 6.5 to 8.1 million people, and from April 2000 to July 2009 population increased by 20.1%. While growth can bring certain benefits, Georgia’s rapid expansion has come at a high cost to our natural resources. For example, in order to meet the rapidly growing housing needs of urban communities, Georgia ranks fifth in the nation for development of farmlands and open space. With this development have come serious water quality problems associated with run-off from construction sites, many of which are concentrated in the headwaters of Georgia’s rivers.
Run-off from these sites is choking our waterways as soil particles enter Georgia’s rivers, lakes and tributaries during each rain event. With as many as four truckloads of soil leaving a single building block during a storm event, soil particles find their way to nearby rivers and lakes where they settle onto aquatic plants, rocks, and the river bottom, preventing sunlight from reaching aquatic life, clogging fish gills, and interfering with fish spawning. This process also increases the level of harmful micro-organisms and toxic compounds that are present in the water (sediment becomes contaminated and carries toxics into the water).
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Clean Water News
Jekyll Island - 65/35 Defining Marsh Law
Celebrate the Ocmulgee River
GWC Reacts to Flint River Bill
As Ogeechee floods, thoughts turn to pollution upstream
Ogeechee Riverkeeper: Still Fighting Discharge
Photo by James Holland
Photo by James Holland
Photo by James Holland
© 2011 GreenLaw, Inc.