Many Georgia Water Coalition ‘Clean 13’ efforts focused on Chattahoochee

Most of us are very aware of some of the destructive and irresponsible things done to Georgia’s waters. They have been the subject of environmental, economic and political debate for decades. We are probably less familiar with some of the important things that are being done for waters in Georgia. But one organization — or rather, a large coalition of organizations, public, private and nonprofit — has made a tradition of taking notice.

The Georgia Water Coalition, whose website defines it as “an alliance of more than 200 organizations committed to ensuring that water is managed fairly for all Georgians and protected for future generations,” includes recreational, sporting, civic, business, environmental, faith-based and other stakeholders in clean water. The organization has just published its 2017 “Clean 13” list of noteworthy projects and efforts.

Not surprisingly, almost half of the accolades are for projects that have to do, directly or indirectly, with the health of the Chattahoochee, and one relates specifically to Columbus.

Here are just a few of particular interest:

The city of Atlanta would not have been anybody’s likely candidate for a river stewardship “good guy” in years past. But, as the coalition noted, the Atlanta City Council four years ago approved a stringent stormwater management ordinance. “Since its adoption,” reports the GWC website, “more than 3,500 projects have been permitted using the city’s mandatory green infrastructure standards, equating to the removal of approximately 700 million gallons of polluted runoff from streams annually.”

Cox Conserves, an environmental arm of media, telecom and automotive giant Cox Enterprises, was recognized for development of a technology that cleans and processes wastewater for reuse in its car cleaning and repurposing facility, saves more than 2 million gallons a year and produces 3,000 gallons of clean water a day.

Closer to home, Mark Masters, director of the Georgia Water Planning and Policy Center at Albany State University, was honored for his research in sustainable water management. Among his many contributions is his role in development of the ACF (Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint) Stakeholders’ sustainable water management plan, which, says GWC, “provides a template for [Georgia, Alabama and Florida] and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to improve management of the river system to meet the needs of all water users from the mountains of Georgia to Apalachicola Bay.”

And right here in our own neighborhood, United Parcel Service was recognized for its treatment of stormwater runoff: “When rain hits the UPS distribution center that backs up to Roaring Branch on Belfast Road in Columbus, the stormwater gets treated before it ever reaches the stream. The same is true at UPS’s other distribution centers in Gainesville, Kennesaw and LaGrange. UPS’s stormwater measures at these facilities now treat 13 million gallons of stormwater annually before it reaches local streams.”

All of those “local streams,” of course, are Chattahoochee tributaries.

Kudos to all who contribute to environmental stewardship and responsibility, including so many we never know about.