River Protection 101
If you live in Georgia, the water that you drink, cook with, and shower in comes from one of two places: either it's pumped out of your local river, stream or reservoir, or it comes from a well that draws on groundwater. Either way, the health and cleanliness of the wet stuff that nourishes and cleans you has a lot to do with the health and cleanliness of the creek down the street from your house.
Your local river most likely provides drinking water to your kitchen sink, but it's also where treated sewage from your town is dumped, where your local industry releases its wastewater and where toxic runoff from parking lots, golf courses and construction sites ends up after it rains. Our waterways face problems like these every day, and protecting the quality and health of the rivers in your community isn't an easy job.
This page has lots of useful resources that can help you protect your local river, no matter how much time and energy you have to get involved. Here are some steps you can take:
1) SIGN UP FOR STUFF!
A good place to start working for clean water in your community is by joining groups that work to protect rivers all over Georgia, every day. By joining a river group you're not only investing in clean water, but you're linking into a great source of water news and information.
Join Georgia River Network.
Join the local river group in your area -- visit our river group directory for more information.
Sign up for free e-mail updates and newsletters about issues that interest you.
Sign up for Protect Georgia's environmental action alert e-mails, which lets you customize the handful of e-mails you'll get from Protect Georgia each year to the news you most want in order to stay informed.
2) GET INVOLVED IN YOUR RIVER COMMUNITY
There are plenty of fun, educational ways your family can make a difference to your river -- and they're closer than you think!
Volunteer! Your local river group could really use your help. Call them up and see what you can do to help! Visit our river group directory to find who is protecting water in your community.
Monitor! The stream that runs through your backyard or under the bridge at the end of your street is important, and the health of that creek makes a difference to the health of downstream rivers -- and people. Georgia Adopt-A-Stream provides tools and training for citizens like you to keep track of the health of their local streams. Contact them for more information, or to schedule or attend a workshop.
And if you've noticed your local stream running red with mud lately, you might think about monitoring your neighborhood for sources of erosion -- probably a construction site. Get the Dirt Out is a statewide program dedicated to educating and empowering citizens to hold developers accountable for construction-related pollution. Visit the Get the Dirt Out website HERE.
Clean Up! If you spend any time around rivers and streams, you know a lot of them are clogged with litter. This is damaging to wildlife, water quality and the beauty of a wild place. Many river groups organize community river clean-ups that make it easy to beautify your local waterways. In addition, October is National River Clean-up Month, so each autumn, keep a lookout for news about clean-ups in your area. To find out about clean-ups in your area, visit the Rivers Alive website or contact your local river group.
3) FIND OUT WHO REPRESENTS YOU AND YOUR RIVERS (and let them know what clean water means to you!)
Much of the time, a problem on your local waterway could be fixed -- or at least alleviated -- by a good local ordinance or piece of legislation. Getting to know the men and women who represent you at every level of government is important because they are there to help.
Click here to learn more about who represents you and how to interact with them.
4) LEARN ABOUT THE LAWS THAT GOVERN OUR WATER
Find out the laws that ensure that all of us have clean, healthy drinking water -- and plenty of it:
5) FIND OUT ABOUT THE WATER ISSUES THAT INTEREST YOU
The Internet is a big place, and there are a lot of good resources out there to help you understand the water issues you care about. However, it's hard to know where to start looking. Well, start here, and go where the paths lead you!
We work to collect the best information out there on water issues in Georgia, and we try to keep the information up to date. A good place to start looking is our Current River Issues page, which details some of the issues we think are important. Another place to look is our Georgia Water Wire blog, which provides an informed look at water-related topics in the news.
For more technical watershed management information, click here.