Flint River named in Georgia Water Coalition's "Dirty Dozen"

The Georgia Water Coalition says the low flow of the Flint River is one of the dirty dozen worst offenses to Georgia's water supply.

The Coalition says its dirty dozen is a call to action for Georgians to protect the state's water.

There is no doubt after years of extreme drought the flow of the Flint River is low. The Georgia Water Coalition says it is being sucked dry by what they call "EPD's out of control permitting.

Covey Pines Plantation owner Robin Singletary grew up near the Flint River, and says he is concerned for its future.

Singletary said "we will use it until we see the point, OK, we made a mistake and we've gone too far, and then we'll do what backing up we can do."

The Georgia Water Coalition named the Flint River as number 7 in their list of dirty dozen offenses to Georgia water. They say since 1980 the flows on the upper Flint River have declined 50 to 70 percent, and on the lower Flint about 30 percent. They say the reason is out of control permitting practices by the EPD.

Georgia Water Planning and Policy Center Executive Director Doug Wilson said "We got a lot of issues. You want industry or you don't want industry. You want growth or you don't want growth."

South Georgia water policy leaders say there is no environmental damage resulting from the low flow, and that Georgia's exploding population depends on water.

Wilson said "I guess we are approaching ten million people in Georgia now. Things aren't going to be like it was when there was a million people here. Period."

Both sides agree that agriculture has to have the water. There are 1.4 million acres of irrigated crop land in Georgia, and irrigation this year has caused some of the low flows. Members of the Georgia Water Coalition want state leaders to do a better job of deciding who takes water from the Flint, and how much.

Singletary said "We all know if we don't have water flowing down the river, we're not going to be able to irrigate our crops when we want to. We are not going to have the drinking water that we want to. We've just go to be wiser."

Water experts say even the low flow is averaging more than 12 hundred cubic feet of water per second. Groups that love the Flint River and other Georgia waterways want them better protected, and state leaders accountable for their decisions. >

Number 9 on the dirty dozen list is South Georgia wetlands. More so a problem in South East Georgia than here in Southwest Georgia, the Water Coalition says two many wetland areas are being developed for timber, agriculture, and residential uses. They are asking state and federal authorities to cease approval of projects that affect wetlands.

The Georgia Water Coalition is a consortium of 180 conservation and environmental organizations that advocate for clean water.  You can link to the report here.

Copyright 2011 WALB.  All rights reserved.